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French Open : Noah Says He Might Retire After Upset Loss

As the second day of the French Open changed from festive, warm sunshine to gray, chilly overcast, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi came to the party and Yannick Noah left it. Maybe, he won’t return.

Lendl, Becker and Agassi scored straight-set victories in their first-round matches, but Noah, the 1983 champion, fell to 25-year-old Luiz Mattar of Brazil, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4.

Noah, who recently turned 29, was rarely in control against Mattar and afterward said he is thinking about retiring.

“The more I think about it, the more excited I am about stopping,” said Noah, who was seeded 13th. “I’m not going to retire this month, though. Right now, I still have some goals. Winning this was the main one. Losing in the first round is something that does not excite me very much.”

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The top-seeded Lendl breezed past Patrick Kuhnen of West Germany, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-1, and the second-seeded Becker had an even easier time eliminating Jim Pugh of Palos Verdes Estates, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Agassi, the fifth-seeded player, defeated Johan Carlsson of Sweden, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.

Rafaella Reggi scored the biggest upset of the day on the women’s side by defeating third-seeded Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. The only other women’s seeded player to lose was 14th-seeded Hana Mandlikova, who lost to 18-year-old Brazilian Andrea Vieira, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-4.

Two Spanish challengers to Steffi Graf and Gabriella Sabatini, seventh-seeded Arantxa Sanchez and eighth-seeded Conchita Martinez, won their first-round matches. Sanchez defeated Regina Rajchrtova of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-1, and Martinez defeated Beth Herr, 6-3, 6-2.

Noah, who lost in the first round of the French Open in 1977 in his first appearance here, has been bothered by chronic knee and foot problems, but he refused to blame injuries for his performance against Mattar. Still, Noah took his defeat hard.

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“I have my friends and my family around me and I can look to them so I don’t feel too much pain,” he said. “It is disappointing, but, yes, I can take it.”

Noah said there is a difference between this loss and his other first-round loss 12 years ago.

“I was 17 years old and had big feet,” he said. “Now I have long hair and I’m older.”


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