Tennis: Graf misses Eastbourne

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The Independent Online
Steffi Graf, who had to play in the Direct Line Insurance Women's Championships at Eastbourne for the first time since she was a junior, yesterday withdrew from the pre-Wimbledon event with a knee injury.

Having arrived early to begin her grass-court preparations, she suffered the injury while practising on Thursday, and decided to return to Germany, not only to celebrate her 27th birthday on Friday, but to consult her personal physician.

The injury has been diagnosed as minor inflammation of the patela tendon of her left knee, and is described as not serious. However, the new French Open champion played an exhibition match against Karina Habsudova in Prague at the weekend and aggravated the injury, being unable to complete the match. She plans to return to Britain on Thursday.

Despite Graf's withdrawal, the popular Eastbourne event has one of the most appealing fields it has ever assembled and includes Monica Seles, Conchita Martinez and Jana Novotna.