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Tennis Roundup : Injury Forces Connors to Quit in Final

February 22, 1988| From Times Wire Services

Second-seeded Jimmy Connors was forced to withdraw because of a back injury Sunday, giving fifth-seeded Yannick Noah of France the title in the $490,000 Italian Indoor championships at Milan.

The injury cost Connors a chance to win his first Grand Prix tournament since October of 1984.

He had beaten Noah in 5 of 6 previous matches but, this time, it was Noah who picked up the $74,500 first prize.

The first set was tied, 4-4, with a score of 30-all in the ninth game when Connors was forced to withdraw.

"I've had my teeth knocked out and everything," Connors said. "I'm not sure what the injury is, but it takes the cake. All I know is that it hurts like hell."

Bill Norris, the Assn. of Tennis Professionals tour trainer, said the injury appeared to be in the cartilage between the second and third ribs. X-rays will be required to determine if the cartilage was cut, torn or stretched.

Connors said he began feeling pain in the first game when he won his serve.

"I was down 15-30, and I thought maybe I needed to do a little more with my serve," he said. "In my second service game, I threw the ball up high and maybe tried to do a little too much with it. Things were a bit difficult after that."

The crowd of 7,500 whistled derisively when he left the court, but Connors turned the whistles into cheers when he returned to center court, took the microphone and told the crowd: "I owe you one. This means I have to play for another year and come back to Milan."

Connors said his plans have been put on hold. "I'm going to have to change my schedule now," he said. "I'll take things day to day."

At Memphis, Tenn., 17-year-old Andre Agassi disposed of Sweden's Mikael Pernfors, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, to win the $415,000 U.S. Indoor championship.

Agassi said he thought Pernfors may have been exhausted from a late doubles match Saturday night.

"I think he was physically tired and I jumped on it," Agassi said.

Agassi, seeded No. 6, eliminated four seeded players during the week. In addition to Pernfors, seeded No. 9, he defeated No. 12 Paul Annacone, No. 3 David Pate and No. 10 Kevin Curren.

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