Sport on the Internet

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The Independent Online
THE PARIS OPEN plays second-fiddle to the French Open that takes place earlier in the year, but British interest will be high when the 14th Indoors Open gets underway today at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy. Last year, Greg Rusedski beat Pete Sampras 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 to win the title. This year he is seeded sixth, with Tim Henman seeded 10th.

The official Paris Open site is a French language one, so the news pages may prove too much for many English speakers. However, the faintest smattering of half- remembered school-learnt French is enough to navigate the menu structure and find the programme as well as the live scores page where results from matches on the centre court and courts one and two will be posted.

The ATP Tour site is a good alternative. As well as the all-important scores and results, it's strong on information about the sport in general.

It's the obvious place to go to check on the latest rankings, but it also has player profiles and a selection of statistics, including head-to-heads, match facts and all results since 1990. Its news service is excellent, with a mix of breaking items and features.

Over the weekend its magazine section was carrying stories about Sampras looking forward to getting back on court in Paris, as well a discussion about different indoor surfaces and the sorts of players and playing styles they favour. There are also sections devoted to the niceties of ATP tour rules.

The magazine section also contains reports and press releases. Under the "portraits" link it has transcripts of sessions where players have entered the site's chat room to answer questions put to them online. There are also collections of analytical and opinion pieces by Nick Bollettieri.

More Web-style offerings take the form of Cyber postcards of leading players that can be sent via e-mail. Registered visitors to the site get a password that enables them to log into the chat rooms for online discussions about events on court with other visitors, whether or not a player is online.

Just about the only disadvantage of the ATP site is that it's not too well laid out, and finding pages can be very hit and miss. Although there is a navigation frame across the top, it isn't always obvious which category information will be under. If you get lost, try the site index accessible from the home page. It will point you to the right sections.

Rusedski lost a straight sets semi-final in the Eurocard Open in Stuttgart to Richard Krajicek on Saturday, but at least he has an extra day's rest before defending his Paris title. That and first-round byes for him and Henman are the sort of thing that gives hope to the readers of fan sites.

Rusedski and Henman both have unofficial sites, devoted to collecting news and gossip about the leading British men's players. They provide useful adjuncts to official tournament sites.

Site Addresses

Paris Open Official Site

ATP Tour Tennis Online

Greg Rusedski Unofficial Site

Tim Henman World