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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 02:52 GMT
Kuerten faces hip operation
Kuerten has been struggling with a hip injury
Kuerten could be out for three months
Former world number one Gustavo Kuerten will miss at least three months of the season after confirming he will undergo a hip operation, according to reports in Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian has struggled both with injury and poor form since the latter part of last year.

And, as a result, he has won just one of 12 of his last matches on the ATP Tour.

On Friday he said he hoped the operation would help rid him of the persistent pain which has hampered him over the last three months.

He was quoted by O Globo news agency as saying: "It's the right time to do the surgery, I have enough time.

"My return will depend on how I recover from this small surgery."

It is not known when Kuerten will go under the surgeon's knife although it looks likely to damage his hopes of staying in the world's elite.

And, reports in Brazil, suggested he would miss at least three months of action as a result.

Kuerten had suffered earlier misery on Wednesday when he lost in the first round of the AT&T Cup in Buenos Aires.

He was defeated by Argentina's Agustin Calleri in three sets, 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4).

Back in January, Kuerten was knocked out of the first round of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season.

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