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Ferreira Finally Bows to Injuries

January 23, 2002|LISA DILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MELBOURNE, Australia — Finally, the 30-year-old body of Wayne Ferreira broke down.

The South African veteran was like an old car running on fumes at the Australian Open, slowly falling apart. First, his ankle went out and he was forced to default his doubles match. Today, he simply could not last against ninth-seeded Marat Safin of Russia, retiring form their quarterfinal after seven games because of torn stomach muscles.

He was scheduled for a MRI exam and ultrasound later today.

For the record, Safin led, 5-2.

"For me, it's great," Safin said. "I don't have to spend too much energy on the court and don't have to make a lot of kilometers on the court, and I can save my energy for the semifinals."

Said Ferreira: "It's very disappointing. When I was warming up this morning I felt a little twinge, nothing too serious. When I came out in the first game and in the third or fourth point, I hit my serve and really felt it pulling and it gradually got worse.

"It's something that I've had happen three or four times in my career, so I know what it's all about. I just know there is no possibility of me carrying on."

Safin, the U.S. Open champion in 2000, will play either No. 7 Tommy Haas of Germany or Marcelo Rios of Chile in the semifinals. Haas is 2-1 against Safin, and Safin is 2-1 vs. Rios.

In the other semifinal, No. 16 Thomas Johansson of Sweden will face Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic. Neither has played in a Grand Slam semifinal. Johansson leads their series, 2-1, and won their most recent match indoors in the first round of Davis Cup last year, in four sets.

"I think it is going to be completely different story," said Novak, who beat Stefan Koubek of Austria, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. "One year ago we played Davis Cup and it was one of the worst matches in my life in Davis Cup."

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