Dick Norman finally qualifies for US Open

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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New York:Eleven years after he joined the professional tennis tour, Dick Norman is finally playing in the US Open. "I played all the Grand Slam tournaments, but never here," the Belgian left-hander said on Friday. "It's nice to say you've played all of the Grand Slams. I had to wait a long time for this one." Norman finally earned a berth in America's premier tournament by upsetting top-seeded Lars Burgsmuller of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the final round of qualifying at the National Tennis Center. Burgsmuller also will play in the main draw as a "lucky loser" because of the injury withdrawals of Thomas Johansson and Guillermo Canas. Norman never was a "force" on the tour. The 6-foot-8 Belgian never was ranked higher than 111th in the world. The lack of success was enough to drive him out of the sport. "I stopped playing tennis in 1998," he said. "I just gave up. I picked it up again in 2000. Now I like it a lot more than before." In a career that began in 1991, Norman has had just one highlight - Wimbledon in 1995, the only time he was able to qualify for the grass-court championships. "I got into the main draw as a lucky loser," he said. "Then I beat Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg and Todd Woodbridge, and had a set point against Boris Becker." Norman qualified for the Australian Open once, losing in the first round, and for the French Open twice, reaching the third round at Paris in 1997. He can't remember how many times he has attempted to qualify for the US Open. Since his self-imposed sabbatical, Norman has rededicated himself to the game. Part of the reason is that he spent eight months working in a tennis club.(AP)

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