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Life's a game

AN AVID video gamer he doesn't leave home without his Playstation and Minidisc. Like any true blue Spaniard he is also into music; is friendly with Spanish group Cafe Quijano and even went on stage with them. But no Real Madrid or Barcelona for him, he supports his hometown soccer team RCD Mallorca.

But it is not all play and no work for Carlos Moya, the former French Open champion who is the top seed in this week's Tata Open in Chennai.

`Life is the most exiting game'. So went the promotional message when Moya launched his own brand of cologne.

And this game started off at age six for Moya. Born in the mid-70s, life in sport has been one roller coaster ride for this Spaniard. Turning professional in 1995, he posted his first career win that same year in Buenos Aires defeating Felix Mantilla; broke into the top 20 in only the second year of his professional career and a year later was in the top 10.

Like other Spaniards his preferred choice of surface is clay, but hasn't lagged behind on other faster surfaces. An Australian Open finalist in 1997 — the first Spaniard to reach there since 1969 - he topped the ATP Tour rankings in 1999, albeit for a couple of weeks.

His crowning moment, however, came at the Roland Garros, 1998, when he defeated compatriot Alex Corretja to take his first Grand Slam title. The next three years saw Moya out in the wilderness, as he dropped from the top 10.

The second half of 1999 went bad for Moya. Having entered the French Open as defending champion he lost to eventual winner Andre Agassi in the fourth round. Like all top pro players Moya has had his share of injuries. Hampered by a stress fracture to his lower back, he withdrew in the second round of the US Open and managed to play only two more tournaments in 1999. He, however, managed to finish in the top 50 for the fifth year in a row.

The year 2001 can be termed as somewhat of a comeback year for Moya as he broke back into the top 20. From then on things have really looked up for him with 2002 being his best year till date. With four singles ATP titles from six finals, Moya won't be complaining. He also earned his second Tennis Masters singles title in Cincinnati defeating No. 1 seed Leyton Hewitt.

In 2003 he reached the Masters Series final in Miami and finished the year ranked 5. He has also performed well in the Davis Cup. Debuting against Denmark in 1996 he won both his matches and was instrumental in taking his country to the semifinals in 2003.

On the way to the top he has scalped quite a few marquee names including Boris Becker (though in the twilight of his career), Michael Chang and Pete Sampras (in the semifinals at the ATP World Championship).

S.V.SRIRAM

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