Tennis: Seles still not ready to make a grand entrance: The former world No 1 decides against making a comeback to defend her title at the Australian Open

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The Independent Online
MONICA SELES, the former world No 1, said yesterday that she will not compete in the year's first Grand Slam event - the Australian Open which begins on 17 January - while she continues to recuperate from a stab wound inflicted on her by a spectator during a match in Hamburg in April.

'It is extremely difficult for me to miss another Grand Slam tournament, but I won't be ready to play in the Australian Open this year,' Seles, a three-time Australian Open champion, said in a statement issued through her agent at the International Management Group.

The Australian Open, won by Seles for the past three years, will be the fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament she has missed since the incident in Germany.

The 20-year-old Seles, who was the world's No 1 at the time of the attack, said in a recent television interview that she owed it to her fans and to herself to return only when she was ready to play competitively again. 'People deserve to see me at my best,' she said last month.

Seles is undergoing a rehabilitation and training programme, but it is still too soon to determine when she will return to the professional women's circuit, the statement said.

The statement from Seles was delivered on the same day that the American figure skating champion, Nancy Kerrigan, was attacked by a spectator following a practice session for this week's national championships in Detroit. But a spokeswoman said that Seles' decision not to take part in the Australian Open was not related to the attack on Kerrigan.

In Doha, Stefan Edberg boosted his hopes of winning a third Australian Open title when he defeated Henri Leconte in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open. 'I think I am playing well enough to win in Australia,' the third-seeded Edberg said after his 6-4, 6-2 victory. 'I'm playing as well now as I have done for some time.'

Goran Ivanisevic, the only other seed to survive to the quarter-final stage, also had a comfortable passage into the last four. The fourth-seeded Croat beat Italy's Stefano Pescosolido 6-4, 6-4 in little over an hour. He will now meet Paul Haarhuis, of the Netherlands, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Russia's Andrei Olhovskiy.