Tennis: Graf reveals her doubts on Seles comeback

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STEFFI GRAF has expressed doubts that Monica Seles, still recovering from being stabbed by a spectator one year ago, can return to the top ranks of women's tennis. 'I think a comeback is more and more unlikely,' Graf told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview published yesterday.

'I would actually think her capable; she's a super athlete. But it is very difficult to get back into the groove after a year,' said Graf, who has dominated women's tennis since Seles was stabbed.

Graf said she believed a Seles comeback 'would be better for women's tennis in general'. She has won four consecutive Grand Slam titles.

The 24-year-old German is ranked No 1 in this week's Hamburg Open - the same tournament in which Seles was attacked on 30 April last year. Seles's attacker, an obsessed Graf fan from eastern Germany, was given a suspended sentence in October. Guenter Parche, a lathe operator, stabbed her in the upper back during a changeover on the court, using a kitchen knife he had concealed in a plastic bag.

At the time of the attack, Seles had won seven of her previous eight Grand Slam tournaments. Just 11 days ago, Seles's agent announced that the player would not be entered in the French Open, which begins on 23 May.

Officials at the Hamburg Open, which starts today, have stepped up security to avoid any repeat of the incident. All players will be assigned bodyguards to accompany them from the dressing-rooms to the courts and will watch the crowd during changeovers, while undercover police will monitor the thousands who are expected to visit the German clay-court event.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won her second title of the year with a crushing 6-0, 6-2 victory over the young Croat, Iva Majoli, in the Spanish Open in Barcelona. The Barcelona-born world No 2 brushed aside 16-year-old Majoli in 46 minutes. The Croat did not take a point off her opponent's service until the fifth game of the second set.