Thursday, 12 January 2006: Nalbandian races to be fit for Open
Tennis Masters Cup winner David Nalbandian is racing to be fit for next week's Australian Open after withdrawing from the Kooyong Classic due to illness.
The Argentine star expects to be fit for the first grand slam event of 2006, but organisers will be waiting nervously for news after being hit by a spate of high-profile casualties.
Belgian women's favourite Kim Clijsters is the latest name player in doubt after suffering a hip injury yesterday during the Sydney International.
Men's defending champion Marat Safin, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal and veteran Andre Agassi have all been forced scratchings through injury.
Nalbandian, the world No. 6, was suffering from a stomach ailment when he arrived in Australia from Argentina on Tuesday, said Kooyong Classic organisers.
He was seen by a doctor and treated for viral symptoms but decided to compete on the opening day of the traditional Open warm-up event.
However he found yesterday he could not go on and pulled out of his clash against Nicolas Kiefer with the German ahead 6-3 3-2.
Nalbandian believed he could recover overnight and had planned to play again today, but was again troubled by the illness when he woke up.
He telephoned promoters and said he would not be well enough to take his place on the schedule.
He had been due to play French teenager Gael Monfils on the second day of the tournament.
His place was taken by Max Mirnyi of Belarus who was rushed in at the last moment.
Organisers have also scheduled an extra exhibition match with Briton Tim Henman playing Australian Wayne Arthurs.