High-flying Murray back in the small time

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The Independent Online

Murray, seeded seventh with a world ranking of 72, is today due to renew acquaintance with Gregory Carraz, of France. Carraz, ranked 152, has played Murray twice this year, losing to the Briton on grass at Newport, Rhode Island, 6-4, 7-5, and defeating him at the Granby Challenger in Canada, 6-3, 7-6.

Tim Henman, the British No 1, is confident he will be fit to play in next week's BA-CA Tennis Trophy in Vienna. Henman, who has not played since losing in the first round at the US Open in August, has accepted a wild card for the Vienna event. "My back is getting better by the day," Henman said. "If I really push myself this week and don't suffer any adverse reaction, then I'm sure I'll be ready to play."

The winner of the tournament in 2000, Henman is keen to return to action. His ranking, No 6 at the start of the year, has slipped to 28th and he had to withdraw from this week's Japan Open in Tokyo. "I've been training and practising well for a while now," he said, "but I felt I wasn't quite ready to play matches in Tokyo. I want to try to play as many matches as possible between now and the end of the year. My intention is to play in Vienna, Madrid, Basle and Paris.

"One of the reasons I've been holding off my return is that I wanted to try to make sure that when I did compete I was going to be able to play back-to-back matches without any problems. If this week goes according to plan, I'll be ready to do that in Vienna."

Mariano Puerta, of Argentina, who lost the French Open final to the Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal in June, denied yesterday that he tested positive for a banned substance at the tournament. The French sports daily, L'Equipe, said the world No 10 provided a positive test for the stimulant etilefrine. Puerta has previously served a nine-month drugs ban so he could face a life ban if the test is confirmed.

"I'm really angry," Puerta said. "I've started investigations with my lawyers. There's no truth in it." Puerta, 26, was banned in 2003 when he tested positive for the anabolic steroid clenbuterol. Five Argentinian players have failed drugs tests in the past five years. Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria and Juan Ignacio Chela served suspensions, and Martin Rodriguez was docked ATP points and prize-money.

Puerta added: "Nobody from the ATP or ITF has called me. After the [previous] positive, I've got to be very careful - I can't even take an orange juice." A player who tests positive for a banned substance is not named until the tennis administrators decide a suspension is in order.