Tennis: Britons seeded in top eight

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The Independent Online
TIM HENMAN has been named as No 6 seed for the Australian Open, which begins next week in in Melbourne. The British No 1 is ranked one place above his world ranking, with his compatriot Greg Rusedski seeded No 8.

The defending men's champion, Petr Korda, who is at the centre of a drugs controversy, is unseeded as the organisers decided to abide largely by the world rankings.

Lindsay Davenport is the No 1 seed for the women's title ahead of the defending champion, Martina Hingis, but they will both be looking over their shoulder at Steffi Graf, who is seeded 10.

Most of the leading men will meet tomorrow at a mandatory meeting of the ATP Tour players' council to discuss Petr Korda's positive steroid test, with sentiment apparently split over whether their Czech colleague should be expelled from their ranks.

What would have been a mundane meeting gained urgency when, in December, the International Tennis Federation released sketchy details of Korda's positive drugs test at Wimbledon.

The Australian Open champion, who denied knowingly taking any illegal substance, plans to attend the meeting, saying he has nothing to hide, but several players over the past week have expressed misgivings over the case and many want an explanation of the exceptional circumstances that led to his light penalty.

Korda tested positive to the performance-enhancing steroid nandrolone at Wimbledon and was subsequently stripped of the $92,529 (pounds 55,000) prize- money and ranking points he earned.

An independent ITF Appeals Committee issued the lighter penalty because, despite finding him guilty of a "category one" doping offence, it accepted his plea that he had not knowingly taken the drug and believed there were exceptional circumstances.

The case has also called into question the anti-doping credentials of the game's ruling body and caused seemingly irrevocable damage to Korda's reputation. Korda has maintained he did nothing wrong, saying on Tuesday that he had been unable to find out how the drug got into his system. However, he refused to comment on what the exceptional circumstances might be, saying the matter was in the hands of his lawyers.

It is that secretive attitude which has rankled most with the players, although the attitude of many has apparently softened in the past week after learning a little more about the details of the case.

AUSTRALAN OPEN Seedings: Men: 1 M Rios (Chile), 2 A Corretja (Sp), 3 P Rafter (Aus), 4 C Moya (Sp), 5 A Agassi (US), 6 T Henman (GB), 7 K Kucera (Slov), 8 G Rusedski (GB), 9 R Krajicek (Neth), 10 Y Kafelnikov (Rus), 11 G Ivanisevic (Croa), 12 A Costa (Sp), 13 C Pioline (Fr), 14 M Philippoussis (Aus), 15 T Martin (US), 16 T Johansson (Swe). Women: 1 L Davenport (US), 2 M Hingis (Swit), 3 J Novotna (Cz), 4 A Sanchez Vicario (Sp), 5 V Williams (US), 6 M Seles (US), 7 M Pierce (Fr), 8 P Schnyder (Swit), 9 C Martinez (Sp), 10 S Graf (Ger), 11 D van Roost (Bel), 12 A Kournikova (Rus), 13 I Spirlea (Rom), 14 S Testud (Fr), 15 N Zvereva (Bela), 16 A Coetzer (SA).

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