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US Eliminated From Men’s Doubles

September 22, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Second-seeded Alex O’Brien and Jared Palmer were upset in their opening doubles match at the Olympics, dropping the United States to 1-4 in men’s tennis.

The only American still alive was Jeff Tarango, who won his opening singles match.

O’Brien and Palmer, making their Olympic debut, lost Friday (Thursday night EDT) to Mark Merklein and Mark Knowles of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-4.

``I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse in my entire career,″ said O’Brien, 30. ``I really wanted to step up and do some good for the U.S. We had a chance to be a bright spot.″

Playing on Court 3 before 250 spectators, O’Brien and Palmer never held a break point. The Americans, who had a first-round bye because of their seeding, fell behind Merklein and Knowles 4-0.

``In hindsight, it probably would have benefited us to play a first-round match,″ Palmer said. ``They were loose and really swinging away and got on us early. That set the tone for the match.″

The doubles defeat was the most surprising setback yet for the U.S. men’s tennis team. O’Brien and Palmer have both been ranked No. 1 this year, and they reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.

``Hopefully there’s a brighter horizon for us,″ O’Brien said. ``Right now I’m at the bottom of the barrel.″

In women’s singles, fifth-seeded Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario advanced to a likely quarterfinal showdown against second-seeded Venus Williams. Sanchez-Vicario, a four-time Olympic medalist, beat Colombian Fabiola Zuluaga 6-2, 6-0.

Williams took a 28-match winning streak into her third-round match later Friday. Her last loss came against Sanchez-Vicario at the French Open.

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