Rosset could face severe penalty


OLYMPIC tennis champion Marc Rosset could face a severe penalty for his extraordinary display of fury which dramatically ended the Hopman Cup final in Perth on Saturday.

Tournament director Paul McNamee gave the warning yesterday as the six foot seven inch Swiss player nursed the right hand he injured when he punched into an advertising board during the final of the eight-nation contest, forcing Switzerland to forfeit to Croatia.

McNamee highlighted how Rosset "had also broken a racquet earlier and had received a warning for that." The 25-year-old had to pull out of the deciding mixed doubles match shortly alter making the punch in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,500 at the Burswood Dome.

The outburst over a disputed double fault with the deciding set deadlocked at 5-5. cost Rosset and his 15-year-old partner Martina Hingis dearly. They missed a chance to snatch the 148,000 first prize, having to be content with the runner-up purse of $74,000.

McNamee said: "It was such a great final until then that it was an awful anti-climax that Marc should do in his hand so badly. I have been around tennis for more than 20 years. and I have not seen anything like this happen before. Frankly. I am still in shock."

McNamee added that greatest penalty for Rosset was that he was not able to continue and possibly guide his country to victory. "He did the wrong thing, but he has paid a hefty price, and that may not be the end of the damage."

Rosset had the hand X-rayed on Saturday night. but because of swelling, the examination was inconclusive. He is to have a bone scan in Sydney today and this should give an idea of his chances of recovering in time to take part in the Australian Open which starts next Monday.

Rosset has until four o'clock today to make a decision on his opening round match in the New South Wales Open, against Slovakian Karol Kucera, tomorrow.

The Sydney tournament has been boosted by the appearance of Monica Seles. One of her main rivals this week will be world number eight Mary Joe Fernandez, who is drawn to meet the three times Australian Open champion in the semi-finals.

Fernandez said the return of Seles to the circuit was a massive boost for the women's game. "She's such a great champion. I don't think anyone is as mentally tough as Monica. I always thought she'd be back and the players are happy she's back. She makes you raise your game and challenges others to get better."

Yevgeny Kafelnikov tuned up for the opening Grand Slam of the year by taking his second Australian hardcourt championship crown in Adelaide yesterday.

The world number six overcame the energy-sapping heat to deny Zimbabwean Byron Black his first ATP title. The top-seeded Russian won the final 7-6 (7/0), 3-6, 6-1.

Kafelnikov, who beat compatriot Alexander Volkov in the 1994 final, came back alter looking in trouble entering the third and deciding set. His win proved perfect preparation for the Australian Open.

Kafelnikov revealed alter the final that he had really struggled during the tiebreak despite taking it 7-0. "The heat was really affecting me. I didn't have enough matches during those conditions. I felt pretty bad in the end of the first set. I still don't know how I won that set, but if I didn't win that set it might have been a different story.

"I thought Byron was more fresh than me and he was hitting some good shots from the baseline. Early in the third set I started to think this is the final, put everything you can do into those 20 minutes, which I did."

Black said Kafelnikov had what it took to win a grand slam tournament, but was circumspect about the big Russian's chances: "He has definitely got the ability and fitness to win a grand slam. But there are a few players like Agassi and Sampras who would probably have the upper hand on him."

Black said he was also affected by the 30 degree temperatures and said the effort he put in during his second set win drained him for the deciding set.