Originally created 11/15/00

Ailing Agassi quits Paris Masters



PARIS -- Unable to recover from a hip injury, Andre Agassi withdrew from the Paris Masters on Tuesday and headed home -- the second straight week he has pulled out of a tournament.

He was the defending champion in this $2.95 million event. The injury that forced him to quit during last week's semifinals in the Lyon Grand Prix flared up again.

Agassi, seeded sixth, said he has been receiving treatment and practiced Monday and Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that I could not go out there and play at the professional level I would want," he said. "I am extremely disappointed because of the importance of this tournament and because Paris is a very special place for me."

Fifth-seeded Lleyton Hewitt also withdrew. The 19-year-old Aussie, a rising star, remains weakened by an illness that has drained his energy the last few months.

"It's a little worrying at the moment," said Hewitt, who did not rule out playing later this year.

The withdrawals came on the same day third-seeded Magnus Norman of Sweden was eliminated, falling 6-2, 6-4 to Fabrice Santoro of France in the second round.

Top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten managed to survive, surging through a second-set tiebreaker to beat Chris Woodruff 6-3, 7-6 (0) in the second round.

Kuerten lost last week to Patrick Rafter in Lyon, enabling Marat Safin to claim the top spot in the Champions Race.

On Tuesday, Kuerten trailed 4-1 in the second set. The Brazilian then took control against the American with a string of aces and strong baseline shots.

"I lost my energy a little bit, my speed and focus for one or two games," Kuerten said. "But then I felt OK, playing the matches the way I like."

Among those joining Kuerten in the third round were Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Albert Costa.

Agassi was replaced in the field by Stephane Huet of France, and Hewitt was replaced by Harel Levy of Israel.

In other second-matches, Marc Rosset of Switzerland beat No. 14 Cedric Pioline of France 7-5, 7-5, and Wayne Ferreira of South Africa defeated Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

In first-round play, Jan-Michael Gambill advanced when Andrei Pavel of Romania quit in the first set, and Gianluca Pozzi of Italy defeated Karol Kucera of Slovakia 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6).

Arnaud Clement of France downed Greg Rusedski of Britain 7-6 (5), 7-5, and Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia topped Roger Federer of Switzerland 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Kafelnikov defeated Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson 7-6 (5), 6-4. The fourth-seeded Russian rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set, winning the match with a crosscourt forehand.

Kafelnikov became angered twice because of line calls, drawing hisses from fans.

Tim Henman, seeded ninth, was beaten by Costa of Spain 6-4, 6-4, losing his bid to enter the year-end Masters Cup. The elite eight-man tournament will be held Nov. 27-Dec. 3 in Portugal.

Henman needed to reach the semifinals in this event to get a spot in the Masters Cup. The Englishman had beaten Costa in their last three matches this year.

This tournament, formerly the Paris Open, is the last of the nine-event Tennis Masters Series, the most important events after the Grand Slams.

It will help settle the remaining two berths for Lisbon. The six who have qualified so far are the four Grand Slam winners -- Agassi, Kuerten, Safin and Pete Sampras -- Kafelnikov and Norman.

The Masters Cup is Agassi's next scheduled event. Sampras is skipping the Paris Masters.