Kiefer rolled but not out of Open
ESPITE becoming the latest Australian Open injury scare, Germany's Nicolas Kiefer is confident the ankle he hurt yesterday at the Kooyong Classic will not keep him out of next week's grand slam.
Kiefer, who has been seeded No.21 at the Open, injured his left ankle in the second game of yesterday's semi-final against American Andy Roddick.
The German had held the opening service game of the match and, in the second point of the second game, he failed to cover enough ground to return Roddick's serve. As Kiefer pulled up he rolled his left ankle. He was attended to for almost 30 minutes on the court, having the ankle iced and strapped, but once the bandages were removed the 28-year-old forfeited the match.
Kiefer joined the tournament line-up late after agreeing to replace four-time Australian Open champion Andre Agassi, who also pulled out with ankle problems.
Kiefer is confident he'll be fit for the Open, where he will play Paradorn Srichaphan in the first round. The Thai has his own injury concerns, having pulled out of the Sydney International during the week because of a thigh injury.
"You have to be positive and, hopefully, I have two more days, and I hope my physio can help me out, everything can work out," Kiefer said.
Once ranked No.4 in the world, the German has been plagued by ankle injuries since 2000, however, it has always been his right ankle. Despite yesterday's setback, Kiefer said he was feeling well.
"My body feels good, I'm in good shape so far, and I think if everything goes the right way, I'm ready," he said.
For Roddick, yesterday's short match was not the ideal build-up to the first grand slam of the year, but the Open's No.2 seed made a quick dash to Melbourne Park for extra practice.
"Selfishly, you want to play that match just to get some form but the good news is I have another one tomorrow," Roddick said.
Roddick will now play another German, Tommy Haas, who had an upset victory over world No.1 Roger Federer on Wednesday, in today's final at Kooyong.
"You want to play against guys who are playing well going into the Open, and obviously Tommy has played great this week," Roddick said. "Win or lose is fine, I want to get out there and compete and hit some shots in a match-type atmosphere, which is good. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape and it would be nice to get out there and just play a couple of sets."
Federer - the hot favourite for next week's Open - finished his preparations at Kooyong yesterday with a three-set victory over Max Mirnyi, 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-1). Although he was upset early in the week, the Swiss was reasonably happy with his form.
"These results don't really matter to me," he said. "I'm concerned about how I'm hitting the ball and I think I could serve better. I've tried to serve a little better today and yesterday already, but I'm still not quite satisfied."
Federer put his tardy start down to his late arrival from Doha, where he won the 34th title of his career last week.
The top seed said that with a couple more days of practice he would be "just fine".
In yesterday's other match, Ivan Ljubicic, of Croatia, defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-1.