Muster criticises US Open seedings

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Thomas Muster, the world No 2, has accused US Open officials of manipulating the draw and seedings for the Grand Slam event which starts on Monday.

Muster strongly objected to the process in which the men's seedings were announced after the draw for the rest of the field had already taken place.

"You can put the seeds in and then make the draw, but you can't make the draw and then put the seeds in then. It's like cheating. In my opinion they should re-do the draw," he said after his second-round defeat yesterday at the Canadian Open.

Muster and the French Open champion, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, were seeded below their rankings, while several players, including the popular Americans, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang, were bumped up, and one top-16 player was left out of the seeds.

"It seems to be that the ITF doesn't respect the ATP Tour rankings, that's one thing, and it's seems like they can do whatever they want anyway," said Muster, who was seeded third for the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

"I'm getting pretty used to it," complained the Austrian clay-court specialist who, before pulling out with injury, was seeded seventh at Wimbledon despite his No 2 ranking.

Britain's No 1, Tim Henman, is projected to face Muster should he progress from his first-round match against the experienced Russian Andrei Olhovskiy. His British compatriot, Greg Rusedski, has a kinder draw - a match against an American wild card, Jared Palmer.

Rusedski is in the same quarter as the top seed, Pete Sampras, who opens his defence against the Czech David Rikl. Meanwhile, Steffi Graf begins her defence against Yayuk Basuki, of Indonesia. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, runner-up to Graf at the French Open and Wimbledon, starts against a qualifier in a quarter of the draw that includes Martina Hingis, the 16th seed.

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