Novotna problem

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The Independent Online
The Direct Line Championships at Eastbourne next week appear to have lost the top seed, Jana Novotna, writes John Roberts. An anxious tournament director, George Hendon, hopes to clarify the situation today.

Hendon's first indication that Novotna would not be playing came in the form of the Women's Tennis Association's weekly newsletter, faxed to his office. An item said that Novotna was withdrawing from the Eastbourne singles because she was not feeling well, but would still like to participate in the doubles.

"I know Jana is playing exhibition matches this week, so something seems wrong to me," Hendon said. "The problem is we don't seem to know where she is. I have told the WTA that I will not accept any excuses. Either they get Jana to play, or they send a replacement from the top five."

This may not be easy to arrange at this stage, the leading players having started their pre-Wimbledon schedules.

Hendon, whose No 2 seed is Kimiko Date, ranked No 6 in the world, might try having a word with the president of the WTA Players' Association, Martina Navratilova, who has entered the Eastbourne doubles.

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