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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Muster Loses First Match, Jeopardizes No. 1

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Austria's Thomas Muster stoked the controversy of his rise to No. 1 in the ATP Tour rankings by getting upset in the first round of the Dubai Open Tennis by lightly regarded Sandon Stolle of Australia.

The 25-year-old Stolle, more known for his doubles play, defeated Muster 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-0) on a hard court Wednesday, giving Americans Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi a chance to replace the Austrian atop the rankings with a tournament victory this week.

Agassi and Sampras, who had fought over the top spot for more than a year, saw Muster climb above them, despite their criticism that he is essentially a one-surface player -- clay. They are both playing in the Sybase Open in San Jose, California this week.

Despite his loss, a disappointed Muster defended his top rank.

"If you get more points, you get to be No. 1. It's easy,'' he said. "What matters is what the ATP computer prints out on Mondays.''

Stolle, who played in the tournament only because Czech Petr Korda was injured, breezed through the first set in 27 minutes, attacking baseliner Muster at the net. Stolle lost the second before overcoming Muster in 55 minutes in the deciding set.

Muster, who only took the top spot two days ago, arrived in Dubai just hours before his match, having won his reverse singles in Austria's 3-2 Davis Cup loss on grass to South Africa on Monday.

"I've had too many changes over the past few days, having played two matches on grass and on a hard court," Muster said.

He said he "didn't have time to adjust to the change of surface here."

"But Stolle played a good game," Muster said.

Stolle reached a career-high singles ranking of 62 in 1992, but has fallen to 161st on the ATP Tour computer.

"I haven't had time to think about it, but it's definitely the best win of my career," Stolle said, calling his victory "a new lease on life for me."


Top seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov made a first-round exit from the Marseilles Open on Wednesday when he was downed 6-4, 6-4 by Slava Dosedel of the Czech Republic.

Dosedel, ranked 65th in the world, took advantage of numerous unforced errors by the Russian to win the match easily.

"Dosedel's game never really gave me problems," Kafelnikov said. "I know I'm better in all departments of the game.

"But I played on clay in Italy last Sunday and I did not have enough time to adapt to the surface which is twice as fast here. That's why I made so many errors."

The Russian, world No. 6, now fears he could drop down the rankings. "I have a third of my points to defend in the indoor tournaments so I have to do well in Antwerp, Milan and Rotterdam," he said.


Fourth seed Mary Pierce of France lost to German Petra Begerow in the second round of the women's Paris Open on Wednesday.

Pierce, struggling to recapture the form that won her the Australian Open last year, was downed 7-5, 7-5 by Begerow, ranked 49th in the world.

(AP, Reuters)