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Tennis: Australia Seeded 1st for 2004 Davis Cup - 2003-09-24

Australia has been seeded first for Thursday's draw for the 2004 Davis Cup world group competition, with Spain the second seed.

The Aussies and Spain will meet for this year's Davis Cup final in November. The other seeded teams were France (3) Russia (4) and Argentina (5). Switzerland was seeded sixth followed by the United States and the Netherlands.

The eight seeded teams will be drawn against the remaining eight teams for first round play in the World Group next year. The draw will be held in London Thursday.

World number one men's tennis player Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain has reached the second round of the Thailand Open with a hard-fought win over Belgium's Dick Norman.

The top seeded Spaniard had to find a way to get past Norman's powerful ground game and big serves but was able to win, 7-5, 7-6. In the next round, Ferrero meets Alex Bogomolov, Junior of the United States, who scored a straight-set win over Giorgio Galimberti of Italy (6-3, 6-3).

Fourth seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand gave hte home fans something to cheer about by overcoming a first set loss to beat Vladimir Voltchkov of Belarus (0-6, 6-3, 6-2).

Meanwhile eighth-seeded Taylor Dent of the United States overpowered Wesley Moodie of South Africa, 6-1, 6-4. In other matches, Gregory Carraz of France defeated seventh-seeded countryman Fabrice Santoro in three sets (3-6, 7-6, 6-4).

Nicolas Thomann of France defeated India's Prakash Armitraj in three sets (5-7, 6-3, 6-3). Bohdan Ulirach of the Czech Republic ousted Davide Sanguinetti of Italy (6-2, 6-3). Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark ousted Israel's Andy Ram in three sets (3-6, 6-3, 7-6).

At the Heineken Open tennis tournament in Shanghai, China, top seed Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic has reached the quarterfinals with a three-set win over Robert Kendrick of the United States.

Novak came back from a first-set loss to score the win 6-7, 6-1, 6-2. In the final eight the Czech player takes on Magnus Norman of Sweden, a straight-set winner over Fernando Verdasco of Spain, 7-5, 7-6.

Meanwhile in first round matches, second seeded Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands reached the second round with a straight-set win over Zeng Shaoxuan of China (6-2, 6-3).

Australian Davis Cup team member Wayne Arthurs scored a three-set win over countryman Peter Luczak (5-7, 6-4, 6-2). Nicolas Kiefer of Germany ousted Thomas Enqvist of Sweden in three sets (1-6, 6-3, 6-3).

Also Wednesday Takao Suzuki of Japan downed Lars Burgsmuller of Germany in straight sets (6-4, 6-1). Robin Soderling of Sweden beat John van Lottum of the Netherlands in straight sets (6-2, 6-0).

The Kremlin Cup tennis tournament has announced that top seeds Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport of the United States have pulled out of the tournament.

Davenport, the world number four, has been nursing a nerve problem in her foot while Williams is recovering from a stomach muscle injury. Williams is also mourning the shooting death of her older sister, who was killed in Compton, California, earlier this month.

The Americans' withdrawals mean that world number seven Amelie Mauresmo of France is now the top seed. The Kremlin Cup starts Monday in Moscow.

Meanwhile in the men's draw, Marat Safin of Russia is expected to return to the courts after a long layoff because of injury. Safin missed the entire summer season because of a wrist injury. Russian tennis officials say he will be in some pain, but doctors have advised him to play.