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Tennis Star Clijsters May Require Ankle Surgery - 2004-01-12


World number two-ranked women's tennis player Kim Clijsters says she might have to have surgery on her left ankle after injuring it during last week's Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.

Attempting to play in the Adidas International in Sydney, but with a bye in the first round, Clijsters says she has recovered enough to give it a try for now. But if her ankle continues to bother her, surgery may be required in the long term.

The Australian Open is just a week away and the Belgian wants to play in at least one match to get tuned up for the competition.

The 20-year-old Clijsters says doctors reviewed scans of her injury and said they were positive about the results but suggest she wear a support while playing. As a precaution, she has been walking with crutches to keep the weight off her ankle.

Others getting a first round bye at the Sydney International are number one Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, number three Amelie Mauresmo of France and number four Lindsay Davenport of the United States.

Clijsters has lost in a Grand Slam final three times. And last year, she had a golden opportunity in the semifinal to put away American Serena Williams at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open. She was up two match points and a 5-1 lead in the third set before losing. Williams then went on to win the title.

Germany's Rainer Schuettler bowed out of the first round of a tennis tournament for the second straight week, losing to Joachim Johansson Monday at the Adidas International in Sydney, Australia.

The second-seeded Schuettler, who was the runner up at the Australian Open last year and is ranked sixth in the world, went down in two sets, 6-4, 6-4, to the 150th-ranked Swedish qualifier. Last week Schuettler fell to Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the first round in Doha.

The 21-year-old Johansson said his game improved by practicing with world number-one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia over the Christmas holiday.

In another match, Canadian-born British player Greg Rusedski picked up his first win since testing positive for steroids six months ago, beating Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela in two tough sets 7-6, 7-6.

Rusedski tested positive for nandrolone in Indianapolis last July but says he is innocent. He claims the steroid must have been contained in supplements he got from ATP tennis tour trainers. Rusedski's hearing is next month in Montreal.

As for Lleyton Hewitt, a two-time champion in Sydney, he scored a 6-4, 6-2 win over Armenia's Sargis Sargsian earlier Monday, while fellow-Australian Todd Reid beat sixth-seeded Nicolas Massu of Chile, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4.

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