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Australian Open Notebook

January 29, 1999

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Lindsay Davenport lashed out at the Australian media, saying she was taken out of context in reports quoting her statement that France’s Amelie Mauresmo ``played like a guy.″

Davenport said the media coverage, which focused on Mauresmo’s looks and sexual orientation, was cruel to the 19-year-old who beat her to reach the final.

``Unfortunately you guys love to write the worst line possible and unfortunately you have hurt a very nice girl,″ Davenport told reporters today.

``You guys totally took it out of context ... I was totally talking about the tennis. ... You know she’s an incredible player. And I’m sorry that all this happened.″

Davenport said she had not spoken to Mauresmo to clear the air and did not think she would get to see her before leaving Melbourne.

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STRONG SHOULDERS: Too much is being made of Amelie Mauresmo’s shoulders, says her coach Christophe Fournerie.

The unseeded Frenchwoman won a place in the final by blasting No. 1 Lindsay Davenport off the court, prompting comments about her muscular physique and the time she spends in the gym.

``Her muscles on her shoulders are natural,″ Fournerie said. ``If all you have to do is go lift heavy weights and build up your shoulders to be No. 1 in the world, then everybody would be doing it,″

Fournerie said he noticed Mauresmo had broad shoulders five years ago, but making them bigger was not part of the game plan.

``She’s strong. If she hits the ball hard, its not all coming from the shoulder, its part of everything _ how she hits the ball, her technique.

``Amelie doesn’t just spend her time in the gym, it’s a lot more than just lifting weights.″

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SEEDS RARITY: Amelie Mauresmo’s appearance is only the eighth time since the Open era began in 1968 that an unseeded woman will play in a Grand Slam tournament singles final.

She is the first since Venus Williams reached the title match at the 1997 U.S. Open.

Just one of the seven previous unseeded players went gone on the win a Slam title _ Australia’s Chris O’Neil, whose 1978 Australian Open win was her only Slam crown.

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BIG CLIMBER: Nicolas Lapentti has assured himself of a giant climb up the tennis rankings by reaching the Australian Open semifinals, where he lost to Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist.

The 22-year-old Ecuadorian was ranked 91st coming into this tournament, but now will be in the top 40 when the new rankings come out next week.

Enqvist, who was ranked as high as No. 6 in 1996, reached his first Grand Slam final by beating Lapentti, assuring himself of climbing from his present 21st rank to at least No. 11.

He will be eighth or ninth if he wins here.

No. 1 Pete Sampras skipped this tournament, citing fatigue, but the players with a chance to overtake him either withdrew or lost in the early rounds.

No. 2 Marcelo Rios withdrew with a back injury on the eve of the first round, and will fall to No. 5 or 6. Alex Corretja will be No. 2. U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter will be either No. 3 or 4.

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COURT CLOWN: After being beaten in the doubles final, former Wimbledon semifinalist Natasha Zvereva joked that she may retire this year.

After Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova beat Zvereva and partner Lindsay Davenport 7-5, 6-3, Zvereva said she would be back next year ``unless I retire.″

Zvereva, who won the 1997 doubles title with Hingis, later said she was only joking.

``Don’t take me seriously. I’m just a big clown. What I said doesn’t mean anything,″ Zvereva said.

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