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'Mosquito' buzzes off

By Associated Press
Published May 28, 2004

PARIS - Juan Carlos Ferrero failed to live up to his nickname.

Numbed by painkillers for sore ribs and overcome by leg cramps, the man known as "the Mosquito" for his boundless energy moved in slow motion, failing to get shots he normally would reach.

As a result, the defending French Open champion lost in the second round Thursday to Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

"I couldn't play my best tennis," said Ferrero, who had never lost before the semifinals in four previous French appearances.

Ferrero nearly withdrew before the tournament because of bruised ribs; he played only after receiving painkiller injections. Thursday, the ribs felt fine, but his left leg began cramping midway through the match. "It's pretty difficult to stay in the match with two injuries," he said.

Among those advancing were top-ranked Roger Federer and three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten. They'll meet Saturday in the third round.

"It's a great match for the tournament and for us," said Federer, the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, who seeks his first French Open title. "If I can get through him . . . it's a huge step."

Federer improved to 34-3 this year by beating Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).

Kuerten, a former world No. 1, won his French Open titles in 2001, 2000 and 1997. Since hip surgery in February 2002, the Brazilian hasn't advanced past the fourth round at any Grand Slam event.

TO BE CONTINUED: Marat Safin and Felix Mantilla played for 4 hours, 15 minutes, then walked off the court with neither a winner - or even a leader.

The courts at Roland Garros don't have lights, and darkness forced the suspension of play. Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open champion, won the first and third sets, but Mantilla rallied to forge a tie at 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-7.

The weary players failed to hold serve in each of the final six games before stopping. Mantilla held a match point at 6-5, but Safin hit a forehand winner.

Safin, seeded 20th, won 188 points, Mantilla 187. They were scheduled to finish the final match of the second round today.

TRAVEL SCARES: Lleyton Hewitt said he worries more about traveling safely after the Italian Open, during which a fire broke out at the luxury hotel where several players stayed.

Three people died in the May 1 fire. No players were injured.

"You think about it a lot more after something like that does happen," said Hewitt, who defeated Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the second round.

"It's like the Sept. 11 thing. You don't think about planes, travel, security, until that happens."

REVERSE AGING: Gisela Dulko's opponents are getting younger.

The 19-year-old Argentine won in the first round against 47-year-old Martina Navratilova, who was playing her first Grand Slam singles match in 10 years. Thursday, she beat 32-year-old Conchita Martinez 6-4, 7-5.

Dulko's third opponent will be Shinobu Asagoe, who is a mere 27.

[Last modified May 28, 2004, 01:00:27]


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