Tennis: Courier refuses a pay-day: American ignores Munich as Novotna seeks glory

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The Independent Online
JIM COURIER, who refused to cross Paris to receive the world champion's trophy from the International Tennis Federation during the French Open in June, cannot be persuaded to cross the Atlantic for guaranteed prize-money of dollars 350,000 ( pounds 233,000) to participate in the ITF's dollars 6m Grand Slam Cup in Munich in December.

The American world No 2, emphasising that leading players are not preoccupied with money - at least those such as he, who has already won more than dollars 6m - will forfeit his dollars 250,000 bonus for winning the Australian Open in January, plus dollars 100,000 on offer to first-round losers in Munich. The dollars 250,000 will go back into the prize pot.

Courier has declined to enter the Grand Slam Cup, qualification for which is based on results in the four major championships, since being eliminated in the first round in 1991. He is among those who regard the 16-man tournament as an exhibition event outside his tour schedule for the year.

After successfully defending the Australian title, Courier was runner-up in the French and Wimbledon championships. He is due to return to Europe next month for the dollars 2.75m ATP Tour Championship in Frankfurt, which will decide whether he or Pete Sampras, the Wimbledon champion, ends the year with the No 1 ranking.

Andrei Medvedev is the only other Grand Slam Cup qualifier to have rejected his invitation to Munich. The Ukrainian has booked a holiday, which ends a day before the tournament begins, and he does not consider that he will be in the best condition to play. He forfeits the dollars 100,000 guaranteed in the first round.

Jana Novotna, the most celebrated tearful loser since Paul Gascoigne, Anke Huber, a German teenager enveloped by the shadow of Steffi Graf, and Mary Pierce, the winner of a tour event in Filderstadt on Sunday, head the field in the Autoglass Classic at Brighton, which begins today. Women's tennis is finding it easier to ban Pierce's disruptive father, Jim, than to supply tournaments with competitors who are not lame, sick, or anonymous.

Graf, the most notable absentee, has lifted the trophy at Brighton for six of the past seven years and will be missed by everybody, though perhaps less by Novotna than the majority. The Czech's sorrowful experience in the Wimbledon final may have brought her instant fame, but she was already adept at losing close matches against Graf. Last year's 4-6,

6-4, 7-6 defeat in the Brighton final was a case in point.

It was the German's 30th consecutive win at Brighton since losing to Britain's Jo Durie in 1985. The 33-year-old Durie is among the competitors here this week. She is also due to defend her national title at Telford next month, after which she intends to consult a specialist to decide whether to have surgery on a troublesome right knee.

'It's a very hard decision,' Durie said yesterday. 'It's not as if I'm 20. I'd like to play two more Wimbledons. Having surgery does not always compensate for the time it takes out of your career, and at my age there is no guarantee that I will not have problems after an operation. I'll have to decide between surgery and continuing to play while having intensive physiotherapy.'

In the latest move to ensure that Britain will have players to follow Durie, the Lawn Tennis Association is to appoint a manager of women's national training. The post is to be advertised next month with a view to an appointment before January. The manager will work with Ann Jones, the women's international team captain.

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