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Kiefer on the comeback trail

Published on 02/03/2004

2 March 2004

SCOTTSDALE – Injury-prone German Nicolas Kiefer is keen to continue his return to form after reaching the second round of the USD 380,000 Franklin Templeton Classic.

The 26-year-old “Kiwi” stamped his mark as seventh seed on the proceedings on cement at the Scottsdale Princess with a victory over American Brian Vahaly 6-3, 6-3.

After years of injury frustration, Kiefer is rediscovering his game, reaching the final eight days ago against on-fire Swede Joachim Johansson in Memphis.

Kiefer, who stood sixth in the world five years ago, will face California-based Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who knocked out Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4.

Lars Burgsmuller did the double for Germany on the day, ousting American lucky loser Alex Kim 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Kim played as a substitute after fifth seed Taylor Dent pulled up ill.

Kiefer is taking his recent success in stride. After his hard luck with injuries, any undue optimism would be premature.

“My goal is to stay healthy,” said Kiefer, holder of six tournament titles, the last taken in 2000. “I hope to get the maximum out of my body. I’m a hard worker, but sometimes I can do too much. I need to find right balance – when I do that I can do well.”

Kiefer’s litany of misfortune includes a pair of broken wrists and a foot stress fracture.

“I missed three months last year,” he said. “I never expected it would take so long to get back – not that I’m back now, but I’m well on the way. You can feel it in your game that you are ready.”

The world number 46 improved his 2004 record to 5-5, with hopes of moving into positive territory later this week.

“When you train well, it will show up in the match. You win more and more, maybe you win a tournament or two, and then you see where you are,” Kiefer said. “I cannot say where I am. I’m trying to get stronger in my game.”

The German paid brief tribute to his former hot rival, compatriot Tommy Haas, making a slow return to competition after more than a year away.

“It’s been tough for him,” said Kiefer. “He had shoulder surgery, which kept him away. It’s been bad for German tennis.”

In other results on opening day, steady South African Wesley Moodie advanced over Frenchman Anthony Dupuis 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-2, while “Baby Goran” Mario Ancic was put out by Russia’s number 81 Igor Andreev 4-6, 7-6 (7-5). 6-4.

Former world number 1 Andy Roddick is top seed at an event where half of the seeds are American.

Subject: German news