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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Still On for No. 1, Kafelnikov Loses




PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who takes over as world No. 1 next week, continued his two-month losing run when he crashed 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to unseeded Australian Richard Fromberg in the Czech Open on Tuesday.


Fromberg, ranked 72, took just over two hours to beat the top seed on Prague's clay center court. Kafelnikov has now lost his first match in the last six ATP tournaments he has entered.


"I feel tired both physically and psychologically," said Kafelnikov, who has played more matches than any other male player in four of the last five years, including 1998.


"I've been playing ATP tournaments for seven years, I should probably gradually change my schedule and devote more time to rest. I need to gather strength ahead of the French Open," he told news agency CTK.


Kafelnikov won the French Open in 1996 and the Australian Open earlier this year. Now ranked No. 1, he will take over the world's top ranking from injured Pete Sampras next week despite being beaten in Prague.


Kafelnikov said that, regardless of the stream of defeats, he believed he could hold on to the top ranking for the rest of the year.


"It is very realistic. Sampras also has problems, he is in a playing crisis," he said before leaving Prague.


Sampras, No. 1 for a record sixth successive year at the end of 1998, pulled out of a tournament in Atlanta this week because of a back injury and has played just 11 matches this year.


Undaunted by a 45-minute rain delay in the first set, unseeded Martin Rodriguez upset two-time defending U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter in the first round of the AT&T Challenge in Duluth, Georgia.


When play resumed Tuesday night, Rodriguez finished a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) victory over the top-seeded Rafter, who came to the Atlanta Athletic Club as the world's fourth-ranked player.


Rafter said the surface "was heavy to start with, but I just couldn't play the style of game I wanted."


"It's very, very frustrating," Rafter said. "It's a pathetic situation for me right now because I feel very little confidence."


Unseeded Jim Courier, who lost in the first round last week at the Clay Court Championships in Florida, had no trouble beating Sweden's Mikael Tillstrom 6-3, 6-4. Currently ranked 67th, Courier won his first match in Atlanta in three tries.