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Retirement not on Coetzer's mind

Amanda Coetzer can feel Father Time catching up on her, but her enjoyment of playing remains strong even after 55 career Grand Slam appearances since her 1989 debut.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2003 23:47 IST

Amanda Coetzer can feel Father Time catching up on her, but the South African tennis veteran's enjoyment of playing remains strong even after 55 career Grand Slam appearances since her 1989 debut.

"I didn't realize it had been that many," Coetzer said. "Still, I would like to make it a few more, over 60."

Coetzer, who turns 32 in October, was seeded 14th at the US Open but was ousted 6-1, 6-0 in the third round here Friday by Russia's 19th-ranked Nadia Petrova.

In the wake of retirements by Pete Sampras and Michael Chang, Coetzer again faced questions about when she plans to bid farewell. Her big goodbye is not coming soon.

"I have a strong desire to compete still," Coetzer said. "How long it will be, I can't say. Once you get into your 30s, you get asked the question a lot. I haven't set a specific date or time."

This was the 45th consecutive Slam appearance for Coetzer, whose best runs were to the semi-finals of the 1996 and 1997 Australian Opens and 1997 French Open. She has reached the last 16 in Australia seven of the past eight years.

The challenge of rising young WTA Tour players such as Petrova has made Coetzer's task harder, but she remains confident.

"It really is tough. You run into tough players earlier in the draw. From the first round on, there are some really tough matches," Coetzer said.

"But with a little fine tuning in my game, I think I have a shot at challenging a few players in the top 10."

Coetzer, in her 16th consecutive US Open, missed a chance to reach the fourth round here for the first time since a 1998 quarter-final run, a bid aided by the absence of injured former champions Serena and Venus Williams.

"Without the Williams sisters, you want to take advantage of that," Coetzer said. "The opportunities are getting fewer and fewer."

Coetzer slid to 40th in the rankings, an 11-year low, in July of 2002.

But she has since reached the Australian Open fourth round, won the Acapulco title for the second time in three years and powered into the final eight at Indian Wells and Los Angeles.

"I try not to focus on the rankings too much," Coetzer said. "I was injured and missed a few tournaments last year and I dropped in the rankings."

First Published: Aug 29, 2003 23:47 IST