Injury forces Agassi to miss Wimbledon for second year in row

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The Independent Online

The former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi has withdrawn from this year's tournament because of injury.

The former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi has withdrawn from this year's tournament because of injury.

All England Club officials said yesterday that the 1992 champion said in a fax that he would not play in the tournament, which starts next Monday. The American pulled out of last year's Wimbledon with a hip problem.

Agassi, 35, has won eight Grand Slam titles, including one of each of the four majors. His last title came at the Australian Open in 2003. At the French Open last month, Agassi was seeded sixth but lost to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in the first round.

Ivo Karlovic served up another Wimbledon warning yesterday with a 59-minute victory over Igor Andreev at the Open in Nottingham.

The 6ft 10in Croatian will enter tomorrow's draw as the non-seed the big names will want to avoid after reaching successive finals at Surbiton and Queen's Club. Yesterday Karlovic - who beat the defending Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 - sent down 11 aces in beating his Russian opponent 6-4, 6-4.

"If I play well I have got a chance of winning Wimbledon - I feel I am now playing the best I have ever played on grass," said Karlovic. "Last year I was pretty unlucky with the draw because I had to play [Roger] Federer, who is almost unbeatable on grass. But if the draw is kind to me this year I can certainly do better than I did last year."

Karlovic has hit form at the right time as he bids to build on last week's victories over Hewitt and Thomas Johansson at Queen's before losing the final to Andy Roddick. Before his run to the final at Surbiton two weeks ago - where he lost to Italy's Daniele Bracciali - he had lost in the first round of eight consecutive tournaments since the start of March.

The experienced Max Mirnyi of Belarus - a 6-2, 6-0 first-round winner over Armenia's Sargis Sargsian yesterday, said: "It would be strange if Ivo were not one of the favourites for Wimbledon. He has such a big serve and has done so well in the last couple of weeks that his chances must be very good."

Richard Gasquet won 7-6, 6-2 against the Czech Tomas Zib to set up a match with Yorkshire's Jonathan Marray. The Frenchman, 18, who reached the quarter-finals at Queen's Club, said: "The low bounce on the court is not one I like because I prefer to play on clay, but I still think I can play well."

Johansson beat Dmitry Tursunov 7-6, 6-3 after the Russian got a second chance following Andrew Murray's withdrawal. The 18-year-old Scot needed two extra days to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Queen's.

Murray's wild card for the All England club is not believed to be in jeopardy. In a statement, the reigning US Open junior champion said: "It was a close call but as there is a slight inflammation still in the ankle. I am really looking forward to playing at Wimbledon."

In Den Bosch, Elena Dementieva was forced to retire from her Ordina Open second-round match against Denisa Chladkova thanks to a shoulder injury.

Michaella Krajicek, the 16-year old sister of the former Wimbledon champion Richard, defeated Ludmila Cervanova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round.