Kournikova harassed by camera crew

A French TV crew was expelled from the Swisscom Challenge yesterday after organisers ruled they had harassed Anna Kournikova. The Women's Tennis Association took away the accreditation of a camera crew from the French television station M6 and had them evicted from the tournament hotel.

A French TV crew was expelled from the Swisscom Challenge yesterday after organisers ruled they had harassed Anna Kournikova. The Women's Tennis Association took away the accreditation of a camera crew from the French television station M6 and had them evicted from the tournament hotel.

"They didn't take no for an answer," explained the WTA vice-president of communications, Chris DeMaria. "They staked her out in the hotel. When a player says no to something they are not required to do, it should be respected."

The WTA said it was the first time it had been forced to take such action to protect the privacy of Kournikova.

Organisers said in a statement that the M6 team had not followed the guidelines of the tournament and had embarrassed Kournikova, her mother and other players at the practice site and in the hotel lobby.

The statement added that the crew of three had been extremely aggressive and gone behind the backs of organisers to gain an unauthorised interview with the Russian.

The M6 crew arrived in Zurich believing an interview had been arranged and when told it was not possible began talking to journalists and other players about Kournikova.

The crew had hoped to speak to the player on Tuesday morning but were ejected from the hotel and told to leave the tournament within an hour.

Kournikova remained in contention for her first WTA Tour title when she eased past Russian compatriot Tatiana Panova, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals yesterday.

She will be joined by another Russian, the qualifier Anastasia Myskina, who battled to a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 win over the No 8 seeded fellow Russian Elena Dementieva.

In Tokyo, the top seed Gustavo Kuerten swept aside Chile's Nicolas Massu, but the fifth seed, Michael Chang, fell in the second round of the Japan Open yesterday.

Mark Philippoussis of Australia, the third seed, overpowered compatriot Wayne Arthurs 6-2, 7-5 with his serve as Arthurs never presented a serious challenge.

Kuerten, the world No 3, is returning after defeat in the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open last week and took a while to find his stride before overwhelming Massu 7-6, 6-0.

Chang was defeated 7-5, 6-4 by Cecil Mamit, a fellow American he had beaten earlier this year in a hard-court tournament in San Jose, California.

Kuerten overpowered Massu with strong forehand winners and a series of aces, conceding only four points on his service in the one-sided second set.

Chang had trouble with his first serve and in contesting the baseline battle. Mamit capitalised on the former French Open champion's second serve and landed a series of impressive winners with his running forehand to take the first set.

On the women's side, the top seed Julie Halard-Decugis was stretched to three sets by home-town favourite Shinobu Asagoe but managed to squeeze past the Japanese player 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

The Australian Open said yesterday it will offer equal prize money for the men's and women's draws next year, joining the US Open as the only grand slams to do so. Players will compete for a tournament record prize pool of $7.5m (£5m), an 11.5 per cent increase on last year's total.

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