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Withdrawals Continue at Tennis Masters Cup


It has been a dramatic second day at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup tennis tournament in Shanghai, China, where events off the court overshadowed the matches being played on it.

This was a disastrous day for a desperately unlucky tournament. It had just about ridden out the shocks of the pre-event withdrawals through the injury of Andy Roddick and Marat Safin, and the paternity leave of Lleyton Hewitt. That at least left it with three major names: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi.

But in the space of half an hour it lost two of them. Nadal pulled out without hitting a ball because of an injury to his left foot, as yet fully undefined despite being three weeks old. Agassi abandoned the struggle after his 6-4 6-2 defeat to Russia's Nikolay Davydenko. Agassi really abandoned hope after losing the first set. He said his ankle, which he twisted badly during a fun session of racquetball four weeks ago, just wasn't ready, and began to restrict his movement after 35 minutes of play.

"I came here with very low expectations of being healthy. But I thought maybe if I tape it and I support it maybe I could push through. But the foot went to the outside and down. So on the outside three ligaments were gone and on the inside I had the compression of the bone hitting bone, so I have a bone bruise on the inside," said Mr. Agassi.

Against the relentlessly accurate big hitting of the in-form Russian, there was no hope and Agassi knew it.

The withdrawals brought in two more South Americans, Mariano Puerta the fourth Argentinian, and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. It's a phenomenal achievement for Argentina, and when someone suggested to Gaston Gaudio after his 6-3 7-5 win over Puerta that his country was a little lucky.

Gaudio replied that injuries had blighted Argentina's Davis Cup campaigns over the past three years, so the nation had earned whatever luck befalls it this week.

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