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Agassi Adds His Two Pence to a Crazy Day at Wimbledon

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It figured. An emotional day at Wimbledon ended emotionally.

Tennis players and tennis parents were imploding on the grounds at the All England Club. So second-seeded Andre Agassi decided to add to the noise Thursday, when his second-round match against Todd Martin was suspended because of rain.

Agassi, who slipped and fell at the beginning of the fourth set, directed his wrath at referee Alan Mills. Agassi, a Wimbledon finalist last year, was leading the second-round match, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 0-1, when it was called.

“It’s not raining any harder right now,” Agassi told Mills. “What are you doing out here right now if you’re going to wait until I fall?

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“It’s not right. It’s not right. I could have gotten injured.”

Agassi has reason to be concerned, considering that he fell on the grass and suffered a back injury a couple of weeks ago at Queen’s Club. Weather permitting, the Martin-Agassi contest--a rematch of their 1999 U.S. Open final--will resume today.

Two other seeded men lost: Fifth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia lost to Thomas Johansson of Sweden, 6-1, 7-6 (0), 6-4, and Martin Damm of the Czech Republic beat 15th-seeded Marat Safin of Russia, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Nine of the 16 seeded players have exited after four days.

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Kafelnikov, who has not advanced past the Wimbledon quarterfinals since 1997, has been constricted by sore ribs.

“It was pretty bad, I feel the muscles between my ribs bothering me pretty much. It really bothers me, especially when I serve,” he said. “It’s been like that the past three days.”

He added, joking: “I wish I could play a match only returning serve.”

Among the others advancing were fourth-seeded French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, who has won his last 15 matches. He defeated qualifier Justin Bower of South Africa, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

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Kuerten came to Wimbledon having played no grass-court tournaments, instead celebrating his new title at home in Brazil.

“I had to rest after a lot of matches the last month,” he said. “I think I did the right thing and just came here with the expectations because I played really well last year. I knew I could play well again.”

Two seeded players on the women’s side lost. The biggest casualty was third-seeded Mary Pierce of France, the French Open champion. Magui Serna of Spain defeated Pierce, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), and Lilia Osterloh beat 12th-seeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, 7-6 (0), 6-2.

Coetzer and Pierce, though, are hardly grass-court specialists. Coetzer has only reached the fourth round at Wimbledon once, six years ago. In Pierce’s best Wimbledon performance, she reached the quarterfinals in 1996.

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Defending champion Lindsay Davenport received a major scare in her second-round match against Elena Likhovtseva of Russia before winning, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Davenport trailed, 3-0, 40-15, in the third set before rallying.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” Davenport said, “but she still had to win three more games, which is still a long way to go. The last six games, I thought I hit the ball great. That’s what I’m going to try to remember through the next two days, how I was hitting the ball at the end.”


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