Tennis: Novotna faces tough schedule

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The Independent Online
Sir Cliff Richard was at Devonshire Park here yesterday, but there was no singing in the rain, only furrowed brows. The organisers of the Direct Line Championships had to reschedule the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the hope of avoiding a Sunday finish on the eve of Wimbledon.

Weather permitting, a hectic day is in prospect. Theoretically, Jana Novotna and Nathalie Tauziat or Natasha Zvereva and could find themselves involved in five and a half matches if they continue playing doubles as well as singles.

Novotna, the No 2 seed from the Czech Republic, was serving for a place in the semi-finals yesterday at 6-2, 6-5 and 15-15 against Ai Sugiyama of Japan when the heavens opened at 12.26pm. That was it for the day.

Tauziat's quarter-final against Zvereva started on Thursday, when the Frenchwoman lost the first set, 6-4. Tauziat won the second set yesterday, 7-5, and Zvereva was leading 2-1 and 40-15 in the third when the rain came. For Tauziat, it is a case of deja vu. She played two matches in Birmingham last Sunday to win the singles title at the DFS Classic and on Monday lost the doubles final in partnership with Alexandra Fusai.

Tauziat, who is also in the doubles draw here with Fusai, said: "The players will not be happy to play more than one match on Sunday. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to play in the doubles."

Monica Seles, who was a set down and 2-2 in the second set against Brenda Schultz- McCarthy on Thursday, did not get back on court yesterday.

And Sir Cliff? He was here promoting the "Tennis Trail" junior scheme, sponsored by Direct Line.

n Rain washed out play at the Mulberry Classic at Hurlingham yesterday.