Wednesday, January 28, 2004

An Australian Open in March?


Australian Open notebook

By John Brock
The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - The women's tennis tour supports a proposal to shift the Australian Open to March.

Tournament officials are considering two options for a date change by the 2007 Open - moving the tournament from its mid-January time slot to a week later, or delaying it until March.

Although a move to March has ramifications for U.S. hard-court events in Indian Wells and Miami, the WTA has joined the International Tennis Federation in supporting that option.

"There's a lot of complications, a lot of issues, and at the end of the day my view is that the Australian Open has to make that call," WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said.

No decision has been made by Tennis Australia, although Scott will meet Open officials over the weekend and the Grand Slam Committee will discuss the issue Thursday and Friday.

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FABULOUS FABIOLA: Thanks to Fabiola Zuluaga, Colombians are suddenly putting soccer aside and paying attention to tennis.

Zuluaga arrived for the Australian Open ranked 36th and without major ambitions. But Tuesday she advanced to the semifinals when Amelie Mauresmo pulled out shortly before the match because of a back injury.

Colombia's newspapers splashed photos of her across front pages usually dominated by news of the long-running civil war.

In 1996, she won her first victory abroad, at a tournament in Poland. In 2000, she reached the third round of the French Open, ending the year ranked 31st.

She was sidelined for much of 2001 after twice undergoing surgery to try to correct a congenital right shoulder problem. She was almost forced to give up tennis.

"In a country that has suffered so much, it's a breather to hear about the success of a Colombian in a sport as competitive as tennis," one of Zuluaga's coaches, Uriel Oquendo, told The Associated Press. "It's gratifying for everybody."

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ACHING DOWN UNDER: French players Amelie Mauresmo and Sebastien Grosjean became the latest additions Tuesday to a growing injured list at the Australian Open.

Mauresmo, seeded fourth, failed to take the court against Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga, pulling out 90 minutes before their quarterfinal because of torn muscles in her back.

"I wanted to try this morning and have a little hit and see how I felt. I have pain," Mauresmo said. "The other thing is it could get worse if I play. The best thing to do is to rest."

Grosjean, seeded ninth, lasted 10 games against Andre Agassi before being stopped by a groin strain when he trailed 6-2, 2-0.

Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce and Monica Seles - all past champions - didn't even make it to the tournament. Neither did 1997 runner-up Carlos Moya, who withdrew hours before his opening match because of an ankle problem.




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