Tennis: Illness hinders Sampras' plans

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Pete Sampras is suffering from flu and has withdrawn from a warm-up event in Melbourne this week, but the world No 1 is still set to play in next week's Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam event.

"Pete has a high temperature and is sick with a fever," said Jeff Schwartz, Sampras's personal manager. "Pete saw the Colonial Classic as the key element to his Australian Open preparation and is bitterly disappointed." Schwartz said that Sampras has been advised by doctors not to fly until his condition improves.

Andre Agassi said yesterday he has fully recovered from a nagging chest- muscle injury and is ready to defend his Australian Open title.

The American arrived in Melbourne to complete his preparations for the tournament and was confident about his prospects. "It's nice to be healthy again, feeling ready, and to start off here is a good feeling for me," he said.

Agassi will play in the eight-man Colonial Classic event which runs from tomorrow to Saturday at Kooyong to round off his build-up. His injury ruled him out of the Davis Cup final against Russia in Moscow last month, and he said lack of match fitness was his major concern.

Belgium's Sabine Appelmans failed to last the distance in a marathon battle with Mariaan De Swardt of South Africa in the Peters International tournament.

Appelmans was forced to default in the first-round match with dehydration and cramp after 2hr 28min in the fierce Sydney sunshine at White City, giving De Swardt a 6-7, 7-6, 6-5 victory.

Steffi Graf's jailed father has refused to testify before a panel investigating allegations that officials knew taxes were not being paid on millions of his daughter's earnings.

Peter Graf's attorney, Steffen Ufer, said yesterday that his client turned down a request by a state parliamentary committee to testify today, citing his right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

Graf, 57, was arrested in August for allegedly failing to pay taxes on some DM50m (pounds 23m) of his daughter's tennis earnings between 1989 and 1992. Justice officials have rejected Graf's appeals to be released on bond, saying he might attempt to destroy evidence or flee the country to avoid prosecution.

Steffi Graf is believed to have earned up to DM120m, including endorsements and payments to take part in tournaments, since she turned professional in 1982.