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Huber retires after 13 years on tour

MUNICH, Germany (AP) -- Anke Huber retired Wednesday, ending a 13-year tennis career in which she rose to No. 4 in the rankings but was overshadowed by compatriot Steffi Graf.

The last match for the 26-year-old German was a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Justin Henin in the first round of the Sanex Championships.

Huber is one of the most popular players among her peers and one of Germany's biggest sports stars.

She won 12 titles, with her best year coming in 1996. But for all her success, Graf always held a bigger place on the stage.

``Sometimes it was good to have her because she drew the attention away from me,'' Huber said. ``On the other side, there was always the pressure to be the second Steffi Graf.''

Huber said in July she planned to quit because she had tired of the tennis life.

``A lot of things just came together -- injuries, the traveling,'' she said. ``I want a normal life.''

Huber began her professional career in 1989, a time when Graf and Boris Becker turned tennis in Germany into a hugely popular sport.

But despite reaching the 1996 Australian Open final, the Grand Slam titles never materialized.

``I would like to have a few, but maybe I never really believed I could be No. 1,'' she said. ``Maybe I didn't quite have the ability.''

Huber also reached the 1995 final in Madison Square Garden of the Masters, the tour's year-ending championships, but lost to Graf in five sets.

Huber has no firm plans but plans to visit Australia, one of her favorite countries.

``I've been there 10 or 12 times, but never seen anything but my hotel room,'' Huber said.

Originally, she planned to quit after the Australian Open in January but changed her mind when she unexpectedly qualified for the Sanex Championships.

``I thought there's nothing better than to celebrate saying goodbye in front of the home fans in your own country,'' Huber said.