NEW YORK, AUG. 27 -- Thomas Muster of Austria will appeal his 10-week suspension and $25,000 fine by the Association of Tennis Professionals for not giving his "best effort" in a match, claiming he was injured when he retired from a match after playing one game.
Muster, ranked No. 6, would not comment on the penalty by the ATP, which found his conduct at a tournament in Prague on Aug. 6 "contrary to the integrity of the game." Muster told a number of people -- including the chair umpire, tournament director and some players -- of his intention to play only one game before retiring with what he said was a strained hip. He departed after five points.
According to his manager, Ronnie Leitgeb, Muster was advised by the tournament supervisor and tournament director that they would rather have him show up and play one game than not show up at all. Muster was the top seed in a weak field. The No. 2 seed, Diego Perez-Roldan, also retired from his first-round match with an injury after four games, but did not announce his intentions. According to the ATP, Muster should have either played the entire match if fit, or not played at all.
Leitgeb said the advice of the tournament officials would be the basis for the appeal, and he harshly criticized the governing body of men's tennis.
"Thomas made it very public he was injured and could not play," Leitgeb said. "He was advised that it was better he step on the court and play even one or two games because he was the top seed, so people see he is there."
Leitgeb claimed the ATP decision might be connected to the fact that he and Muster had been critical of the organization since it assumed control of men's tennis in January. The ATP has instituted a controversial policy of allowing players to accept guaranteed fees to play in tournaments, and has even offered them. Leitgeb pointed out that Muster is the top seed in a number of upcoming events.
The 10-week suspension will knock Muster out of six tournaments, including the rich, year-end ATP Championships. Leitgeb said the ATP told him that was its intention.
Christian Saceanu of Romania also has been suspended for 10 weeks and fined $15,000 for a similar violation in Prague. Saceanu withdrew from the tournament following his second-round match, submitting a letter from a physician saying he had a back injury. The next day, Aug. 10, Saceanu played an exhibition in Germany for which he was handsomely paid. WCT Closes Shop
World Championship Tennis ceased to exist today. The 23-year-old WCT announced that it was halting all tennis operations, including the Tournament of Champions at Forest Hills and events in London; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Dallas.
The WCT was started in 1963 by Dallas businessman Lamar Hunt as an indepedent circuit and was partly responsible for forcing the open era of tennis, which dates to 1968.
"Beginning with open tennis, which probably happened at least in part because of the WCT, there have been a series of evolutionary changes in the profesional game," Hunt said in a statement.