Tennis: Navratilova's last stand

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The Independent Online
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA begins her farewell to British courts this week by competing for the Volkswagen Cup at Eastbourne, where she has been victorious 11 times since 1974. On seven occasions, she has picked up the trophy at Devonshire Park and proceeded to win the Wimbledon title, writes John Roberts.

The nine-times Wimbledon champion is seeded to play Jana Novotna, her conqueror in last year's semi-finals at the All England Club, in the final. Given a bye in the first round, Navratilova's opening match at Eastbourne could be against Irina Spirlea, whom she defeated in the semi-finals of the Italian Open. The 20-year-old Romanian went on to beat Mary Joe Fernandez in the French Open.

Novotna, who also has a bye, may face a second-round match against the American, Linda Harvey-Wild, who eliminated Navratilova in the defending champion's opening match two years ago.

In the men's tournament at Manchester, Britain's Chris Bailey has drawn a first-round match against the second seed, Patrick Rafter, from Australia. The winner will meet Jermey Bates, the British No 1, or Italy's Omar Camporese.

Mark Petchey, from Essex, faces a difficult task against the South African, Christo van Rensburg, while Oxford's Tim Henman plays a qualifier, with either Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi or Maurice Ruah, from Venezuela, waiting in the second round.

Richard Krajicek yesterday became the first Dutchman to win a title on home soil in almost 20 years when he beat Karsten Braasch in the final of the Continental grass court tournament in Rosmalen.

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