Novotna to retire following fall matches; 10th-ranked woman says she has 'been thinking about it a very long time'; U.S. Open


NEW YORK -- Jana Novotna is retiring.

"I will fulfill my obligations for this fall, and then not play anymore," said Novotna, who is ranked No. 10 in the world. "I have been thinking about it a very long time and just feel the timing is right."

Novotna, who will turn 31 Oct. 2, achieved her 14-year career dream last year by winning Wimbledon. She has 16 Grand Slam doubles titles, but Wimbledon is her only Grand Slam singles title. It came five years after she cried on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent after blowing a 4-1 lead to her career-long nemesis, Steffi Graf.

Graf abruptly retired last month, too.

"Winning Wimbledon last year and having that wonderful year, makes this much easier," she said. "Steffi is no doubt the greatest player I've ever played. And it is a little ironic that we are retiring at the same time. You know, when I traveled to my first international tournament, under-14s, it was Steffi Graf I played in the first round."

Novotna said she is looking forward to staying home.

Rios loss is stunner

Even No. 2 Andre Agassi raised his eyebrows yesterday when he learned Frenchman Nicolas Escude had upset No. 10 Marcelo Rios, 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

"Straight sets?" Agassi said. "Wow! I never would have guessed that he would have won in straight sets here. But the guy knows how to win good matches."

Escude, No. 136, becomes the first qualifier ever to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals in the Open Era (post 1968), but it's not the first time he has been this far into a Grand Slam tournament. In 1998, he made it to the semifinals of the Australian Open, where he lost to Rios.

"I'm very tired, but I'm really happy to play Agassi," Escude said. "Yeah. I have played against him in Key Biscayne last year. I lose. This time, I hope I'm going to win."

Davis Cup revisited

The U.S. Tennis Association took a step toward getting Agassi back on the Davis Cup team by rehiring physician George Fareed.

Agassi had said he would never play for the Davis Cup team again unless Fareed, who had been let go, was rehired.

"I'm certainly reconsidering playing," Agassi said, after advancing to the quarterfinals here with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Arnaud Clement. "There have been efforts made on behalf of the USTA to kind of allow the players to have a bit more input as to the things that really affect the players out there on the court. We're going to take it one step at a time. I really believe it's all going to start to work out."

Medvedev silenced

Andrei Medvedev has entertained everyone here with various comments about New York -- "This is the city that you can do anything 24 hours a day. You have a 1-800 number for every need you need. Everything is toll-free, fat-free, bull-free. I really love it. I have the feeling that in New York you can walk naked on the street and still nobody will look at you. " Yesterday, his countryman, No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, sent Medvedev packing, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 6-0.

Featured matches

Men's singles today

Magnus Norman vs. Gustavo Kuerten (5)

Greg Rusedski (9) vs. Todd Martin (7)

Cedric Pioline vs. Tommy Haas (14)

Women's singles today

Martina Hingis (1) vs. Anke Huber

Venus Williams (3) vs. Barbara Schett (12)

Pub Date: 9/07/99

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