Madrid absences boost Ferrero, Henman, Agassi
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Defending champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain will not have to face the world's top three players to retain his title at the Madrid Masters, which starts Monday.
Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt all pulled out of the euro2.4 million (US$3 million) tournament citing injury, fatigue or personal reasons.
The absence of those players should also help Tim Henman of Britain and Andre Agassi of the United States, who are trying to earn enough points to qualify for next month's Masters Cup.
Federer, Roddick, Hewitt and Gaston Gaudio of Argentina have already qualified for the Masters Cup. Carlos Moya of Spain and Guillermo Coria of Argentina are next in the points race, but they are also skipping the Madrid Masters.
With the withdrawals, Henman is seeded first in Madrid, followed by Ferrero and Agassi. The top 16 seeds have byes until Wednesday.
The winner gets euro360,000 (US$450,000) and 100 points in the Champion's Race.
The weeklong event was to start at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) Monday with Robin Soderling of Sweden facing Florian Mayer of Germany in the opening match.
Andre Agassi forever