Tennis: Graf kept off grass by rain

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STEFFI GRAF, hoping to make her grass-court comeback at the DFS Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club this week, was reduced to practising indoors in Birmingham yesterday because of persistent rain.

The 28-year-old German, who has appeared in only two tournaments since having knee surgery in June last year, is not due to play until tomorrow when she will meet Wang Shi-Ting, of Taiwan, or a qualifier still to be known.

Graf has not played in Britain since winning Wimbledon in 1996 and since her knee operation has also suffered calf, back, hamstring and ankle injuries. She is, however, hoping to be fit enough to play in Birmingham, at Eastbourne next week and then Wimbledon.

Boris Becker said yesterday he might play at Wimbledon after all. Becker told reporters that his decision to enter the All-England Championships depended on how well he played at this week's Halle tournament. "On Friday, I will announce whether I play Wimbledon '98 or not," Becker said.

Cedric Pioline, last year's losing Wimbledon finalist, has withdrawn from the Stella Artois event at Queen's Club in London with a stomach infection as play was curtailed yesterday by the wettest day in the tournament's history.