Unlucky Norman becomes 7th to retire; He concedes to Kuerten because of back strain; McEnroe a Cup captain?; U.S. Open; Notebook


NEW YORK -- On the ninth day of the U.S. Open, a seventh man retired from play.

Magnus Norman, the hottest player on the men's tour, having won 21 of his past 23 matches, handed No. 5 Gustavo Kuerten a place in the quarterfinals when he was forced to quit, after Kuerten had just won the first set 7-6 (7-4).

"I felt like a click in the back when I was going to return the serve at 30-40, the break point," he said. "I felt like just unbelievable pain in the back I never felt like this before."

Norman said doctors' initial diagnosis is a strain.

Kuerten, the 1997 French Open champion, is in the quarterfinals in his third consecutive Grand Slam and for the first time here. He next plays Cedric Pioline, a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victor over No. 14 seed Tommy Haas.

Captain McEnroe?

Retired pro John McEnroe has said for years that he'd like to captain the Davis Cup team. The U.S. Tennis Association is expected to make the official announcement at 10: 45 a.m. today in a news conference.

Tom Gullikson, captain for the past five years, has been criticized for sitting top-ranked Pete Sampras in favor of Jim Courier and Todd Martin during the Davis Cup semifinals, which the United States lost to Australia.

McEnroe, 40, has played on five Davis Cup teams, including the 1992 squad, when he played doubles with Sampras. He lobbied Gullikson earlier this year for a doubles spot on the team. There is speculation that he could play doubles as well as captain next year's team.

A final shot

Before leaving the U.S. Tennis Center, Andrei Medvedev, who is not shy about expressing his thoughts, said the U.S. Tennis Association could do a better job with its facilities.

"This is one of biggest countries in the world. This tournament is making so much money, has such a big budget, the locker rooms and everything in the locker rooms, except for the beer, except for the free beer, everything is just horrible," he said.

"We don't come here for a nice seat in the locker room and big lockers and a lot of space and naked girls running through. We come here to play. But it would be nice if there would just be some decent facilities for us."

The food, he says, has gotten much better since he complained in 1993. So, maybe some more things can be fixed.

"I think four toilets is not enough for 256 players," he said. He also pointed out deficiencies in player parking, in inconsistent court speeds and crowded dressing room facilities.

But Medvedev said none of the things he mentioned has anything to do with how a player performs.

"No, no," he said. "It certainly does not. If it does, then the player must be completely weak mentally, if he really pays attention and gets distracted by it, by those uncomfortable little things. I just look at it and laugh."

The USTA has just spent the past five years redesigning and rebuilding the National. "We are always seeking feedback from the players," said Jay Snyder, tournament director. "This year, we have our player survey in four languages. I was disappointed to hear of Andrei's comments I guess he has never seen me in the locker room. I'm in there three to four times a day."

Pub Date: 9/08/99

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