Tennis: Becker attacks rule changes

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Boris Becker yesterday launched a bitter attack on the International Tennis Federation and threatened to pull out of next January's Australian Open. In an astonishing tirade following a straight-sets semi-final win over Mark Woodforde at the Australian Indoor championships, Becker said that the ITF treated the world's top players like puppets. 'I don't know why they want to hurt the game like this - and they are the governing body,' Becker said. Becker was particularly scathing about a decision to reduce the time available to players between points from 25 seconds to 20 seconds. He said the move would put players' health at risk, especially at the Australian Open. 'We will have to wait until people fall down in the fifth set and then we will see that maybe it was not such a good idea,' Becker said. Jared Palmer of the United States and Magnus Larsson of Sweden reached the final of the Toulouse Open tennis tournament yesterday. Palmer defeated the German fifth seed Bernd Karbacher, of Germany, 6-4 6-1 while Larsson beat Andrei Chesnokov, of Russia, 6-1 1-6 6-1 in the semi-finals. Natalia Zvereva of Belarus and fifth-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria advanced to the finals of the European Indoor tennis tournament in Zurich yesterday. Zvereva trounced Dutch qualifier Mirjam Oremans 6-0 6-2. Maleeva defeated Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic 6-2 7-5.

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