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banner Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
British fitness questioned
Arvind Parmar
Down but not out: Parmar receives treatment
By BBC Sport Online's Steve Cresswell at Wimbledon

With six British men having made it through to the second round you would think there would be plenty of reason to celebrate.

But their success, and that is what it is in British tennis terms, has not been without criticism.

Arvind Parmar had to battle his way past both cramp and Brazilian Andre Sa in a five-set match that lasted four hours and 14 minutes.

But Parmar's struggle prompted some to suggest that British players are not tough or fit enough to compete with the world's best.

It is an argument that does not hold much weight with Parmar.

If cramping was an easy issue we could solve it for everybody
  Doug Spreen
ATP Tour physio
"I don't think cramping is a sign of fitness," he said.

"I think everyone cramps. Take Pat Rafter, for instance, he's a great athlete, but he still cramps."

Parmar had already taken the three-minute time-out that players are allowed on court, before saving a match-point with a second-serve ace even though he was barely able to stand.

Players are also allowed to receive treatment when they return to their seats between every two games.

And that treatment comes from one of three ATP Tour physios on duty - Bill Norris, Doug Spreen or Juan Reque.

"If cramping was an easy issue we could solve it for everybody," Spreen told BBC Sport Online.

"But there are so many issues involved. You can have a player that is exhausted but not cramping - some players are susceptible to it and others not.

"It can relate to a player's diet, their fitness, their sweat rate, even whether they have any kind of deficiency, such as Pete Sampras admitting he has an iron deficiency."

Tommy Haas receives treatment in his match against Wayne Black
Haas retired despite treatment
Rafter's cramping problems were highlighted in the Australian Open when he was beaten in the semi-finals by Andre Agassi.

He also had to concede a match in last year's Davis Cup final.

But now shorn of his flowing locks he does not expect to suffer at Wimbledon.

"I think that grass is a surface that - touch wood here - doesn't create long points and cramping sort of situations. If it does I'm in a lot of trouble now," said Rafter.

And it is not just Parmar who has found the going tough.

Israel's Harel Levy (hip injury), Germany's Tommy Haas (heat-induced gastric condition), Michael Llodra of France (twisted ankle) and Wayne Ferreira of South Africa (respiratory problems) were all forced to retire from their first round matches.

So maybe the Brits are a hardy breed after all?

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