Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Masters Cup will be China's biggest pro sports event

U.S. Open notebook

AP Sports Writer

        NEW YORK — The final event on the ATP season calendar is the Tennis Masters Cup, which brings together the year's eight top players and determines the No. 1.

        This year the event, set for Nov. 12-17, is scheduled for Shanghai.

        “It will be the biggest professional sports event ever in China,” said Mark Miles, chief executive officer of the ATP.

        Will visitors be allowed to travel beyond Shanghai? Jiang Sixian, vice mayor of the host city, smiled at the question.

        “You can go anywhere,” he said, “if you can afford it.”


        JUST THE TICKET: Two days of rain at the U.S. Open kept ticket-holders from seeing the tennis they thought they'd see. So organizers modified their policy.

        Anyone who brings a stub from Monday's day session will get at least a grounds pass for day sessions Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday that allows them access to all but three main courts. And if there is room available on those courts, they can watch matches there.

        That applies to spectators who attended Monday's day session, which lasted just 90 minutes because of the rain. Normally, those spectators would have no claim to a refund or future ticket.

        “This is just an added option to the current policy,” Arlen Kantarian, the USTA's chief executive for pro tennis, said of the stub policy.

        He shouldn't have to worry any more about scrambling to deal with tickets.

        “The weather looks clear as a bell through Sunday,” the tournament's final day, Kantarian said.


        OPEN'S WEATHERMAN: The man with the furrowed brow at the U.S. Open is Brian Earley, referee for the event and the man in charge of scheduling. Two days of rain have left him scrambling to find room for matches.

        Just one of 64 scheduled matches was completed Sunday, and 60 more were postponed on Monday as organizers waited through seven more hours of rain.

        Earley described the schedule situation as fluid — appropriate with all the rain — except for the final weekend.

        “The plan, of course, is always to stay with the women's final on Saturday night and the men's final on Sunday afternoon,” he said. “That's a change if we play with that one. I don't see that happening.”


        RAINY RATINGS: Rain limited CBS Sports' coverage of the U.S. Open to a lot of reruns of old matches. Jimmy Connors, who turned 50 Monday, was a mainstay of the coverage, but the network caught a break, showing defending champion Lleyton Hewitt's five-set victory over James Blake.

        The match generated a 2.5 overnight rating and a 6 share, up 19 percent from last year's 2.1 rating and a 6 share.

        Sunday's coverage, which included more than five hours of rain delay before Serena Williams defeated Deja Bedanova, produced a 2.3 rating and a 6 share.


        KILLING TIME: Play enough tennis and learning how to kill time is no big deal. Jennifer Capriati handled it easily Monday, waiting out a daylong rain to play Amy Frazier and then beating her 6-1, 6-3 in 53 minutes

        “As a tennis player, you get used to it just from being around so long,” she said. “You've just got to get used to it. Just try to eat at the right times, just try to find some place to rest, get some treatment, just kind of do stuff to keep you busy but not too busy where you get tired.”


        PUT ME ANYWHERE: Lindsay Davenport was willing to play on a remote court at the National Tennis Center if it meant she wouldn't have to wait around all night Monday for her rain-delayed match against Silvia Farina Elia.

        She didn't have to wait and she drew center court for her 6-3, 6-1 victory.

        “They just came to me at 5 o'clock and said, "If it stops raining, you're the first ones out there, if it's before 6 o'clock.' ” she said. “It was kind of a weird hour. We were close to the 6 o'clock time frame, so I didn't know if we were playing or not. It was more confusion than anything else.”


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