Kafelnikov's US protest

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The Independent Online

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, seeded seventh in the US Open despite being ranked fourth in the world, withdrew from the Grand Slam event, which starts today, in protest over what he calls unfair seeding practices.

The US Association dropped the 22-year-old Russian three places from his world ranking despite his winning the French Open.

"I was shocked when I saw what they did to me," Kafelnikov said. "I deserve to be seeded No 4. I won a Grand Slam tournament and consider myself a good hard-court player. I am disappointed, but I am sending a warning."

The draw for the 128-player men's field - minus the 16 seeds - was made in a non-public meeting on Tuesday night. The next morning, at a public ceremony, the seeded players were announced and their names were selected from a cup to determine exactly where they would be placed in the draw.

In an unprecedented move sparked by the threat of a players' boycott, the USTA redid the draw on Thursday for the year's final Grand Slam tournament. "They basically set up the draw in favour of American players," Kafelnikov said.

The ATP Tour said it believes a subjective seeding system presents the perception of favouritism. Therefore, it will not penalise Kafelnikov by awarding him zero points for the tournament. "We call upon the Grand Slam Committee to review the situation in regard to how players are seeded at Grand Slam events," Mark Miles, chief executive officer of the ATP Tour, said.

Because of a rib injury Kafelnikov also had a medical excuse to withdraw from the US. Open, but he said he would have stayed and continued treatment to play. "I'm fit enough and in a few days, I'll be fine," he said. "But I am feeling so frustrated."

Felix Mantilla, of Spain, will take Kafelnikov's place in the draw and will face Brazil's Fernando Meligeni in the first round, and his spot will be filled by a qualifier.

South Africa's Wayne Ferreira and the unseeded Australian Todd Woodbridge came through contrasting semi-finals in the Canadian Open in Toronto.

Ferreira, the No 3 seed, had a real tussle to overcome America's Todd Martin 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 to set up his meeting with Woodbridge, who easily handled an uninspired Marcelo Rios of Chile, the fourth seed, 6-0, 6-3.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the top seed from Spain, came back from a set down to beat her doubles partner and the No 3 seed, Jana Novotna, in the semi-finals of the Carlsbad Classic in California. Sanchez Vicario won 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 and now meets Japan's Kimiko Date in the final. Date surprised the defending champion, Conchita Martinez of Spain, 6-2, 7-5.