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ANIMOSITY OVER TOURNAMENT SEEDING LINGERS AT U.S. OPEN
Published August 27, 1996
ESPN's Brett Haber opened his report on the first day of the U.S. Open by saying, "Men's tennis almost went on strike on Monday." Foreign players kept up their criticism of the USTA's decision not to go by the ATP computer ranking and conduct their own draw with allegations that the system was "rigged" in favor of U.S. players. The theory, according to the critics, is that the USTA wants to keep U.S. players -- particularly Agassi, Chang and Sampras -- alive in the tournament for as long as possible to maintain high TV ratings and ticket sales. USTA President Les Snyder: "The important thing for folks to remember is that this is in the rules -- that we have a contract with the ATP that we'll use the ranking system for entry in the tournament, but not necessarily for seeding. All four Grand Slams have agreed to that" ("SportsCenter," 8/26). NEWSDAY's John Jeansonne reports, "Actual tennis action seemed to be bumped right off the radar screen by the brewing hurricane" (NEWSDAY, 8/27). In Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman writes, "The U.S. Open is burdened with a controversy that won't go away" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 8/27). Thomas Muster, who dropped from No. 2 in the ATP rankings to a No. 3 seed, "ripped the process" at a players-only meeting on Sunday, while taking several "shots" at Agassi (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/27). Michael Stich said he almost pulled out of the tournament in protest before his opening match yesterday. Stich said the players should have boycotted Monday to "get a stronger message through." Michael Chang, who replaced Muster as No. 2, said the reason he was a "no-show" at an ATP press conference on the matter was because he never received an invite. Chang supports the players' position (Gene Wojciechowski, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/27).