8 Top Players Get Byes as U.S. Hardcourts Open

From Associated Press

Top-seeded Boris Becker, No. 2 Andre Agassi and six other top players were absent when the $1-million U.S. Hardcourts began today.

Becker, Agassi, third-seeded Aaron Krickstein, No. 4 Jay Berger and John McEnroe, the fifth seed and defending champion, received first-round byes.

Also receiving byes in the draw announced Sunday were No. 6 Pete Sampras, seventh-seeded Martin Jaite and No. 8 Jim Courier.

The earliest the top eight seeds could face each other would be in the quarterfinals at the Indianapolis Sports Center.

The only seeded players in action today will be No. 10 Karel Novacek against Thierry Champion and 15th-seeded Kevin Curren against Jeff Tarango.

Two local players will be in the spotlight today. Carmel's Todd Witsken, ranked 51st in the world, will open the evening matches on stadium court against West Germany's Patrick Kuhnen.

Witsken was a quarterfinalist here last year and reached the semifinals in 1988.

Kent Kinnear of nearby Greenwood opened the tournament at noon against Austria's Alex Antonitsch. The former All-American from Clemson has never won a match at the U.S. Hardcourts in two straight appearances.

Because the top eight seeds received first-round byes, none will see action before Tuesday and some may not play until Wednesday.

Becker is back after skipping the tournament last year. He won the title in 1988.

The Hardcourts will offer a chance for Agassi, McEnroe, Krickstein and Berger to rebound from third-round losses at last week's ATP Championships in Mason, Ohio. The U.S. Open begins Aug. 27 in New York.

The 20-year-old Agassi, accompanied by his flashy attire and squealing mob of teen-age fans, likely will draw the most attention in his first appearance at Indianapolis since the tournament switched from clay to hard surface three years ago.

As a teen-ager, he played at the U.S. Clay Courts in relative obscurity on outside courts. This time, the French Open runner-up is guaranteed stadium court matches.

McEnroe has had a disappointing summer. He suffered consecutive losses to Derrick Rostagno at Wimbledon and Washington, halting once again his attempt to regain the form that made him the world's top-ranked player 10 years ago.

But McEnroe has two things going for him in Indianapolis. He likes the hard courts at the Sports Center, which are the same Deco Turf II surface that the U.S. Open is played on, and Rostagno will not be playing here.

McEnroe has been a finalist both years the tournament has been held here. It was resurrected after being stopped from 1972 to 1987 because of problems with sponsorship and prize money. McEnroe lost to Becker in 1988 and beat Jay Berger 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 last year.

"He is enthused about coming back to defend his title," tournament director Steve DeVoe said. "John obviously is very serious about what he's doing and I think he's starting to play well."

Stadium court at the Sports Center has a new look this year with a two-tone top-coating--dark green on the playing surface and light green on the surrounding area.

DeVoe gave the tournament's five wild cards to first-year pro Steve Bryan, Ken Flach, Robert Seguso, Kinnear and Todd Martin.

Among others missing in the 56-player field are Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl and French Open champion Andres Gomez.

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