Tennis: Becker's defence

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The Independent Online
Boris Becker and Monica Seles, the defending champions, have confirmed their entries for the Australian Open in Melbourne in January, the tournament director Paul McNamee said yesterday.

Becker has recovered from a wrist injury he suffered at Wimbledon and recently defeated the world No 1, Pete Sampras, in Stuttgart. Seles' participation had been in doubt because of a persistent shoulder injury.

Seles has never lost a match in Australia and has won the Australian Open four times. She also also has a 37-0 record in the country, including wins at the Sydney International and the Hopman Cup.

The tournament will offer a record Aus$9.5m (pounds 6.3m) in prize-money. The men's singles champion will earn Aus$585,000 and the women's singles winner will collect Aus$542,000. The tournament will be held at the National Tennis Center from 13 to 26 January.

Sampras heads the entries in the Colonial Classic exhibition tournament, a warm-up event to the Australian Open which also takes place in Melbourne.

Sampras leads an elite eight-man field for the special event, to be played at Kooyong from 8 to 11 January. Joining Sampras are the French Open champion, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, the Americans Michael Chang, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier, Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, Richard Krajicek, the Wimbledon champion from the Netherlands, and Australia's Jason Stoltenberg.