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NOTEBOOK | Australian Open

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Schedule shift: The women's tennis tour supports a proposal to shift the Australian Open to March. Tournament officials are considering two options for a date change by the 2007 Open -- moving the tournament from its mid-January time slot to a week later, or delaying it until March. Although a move to March has ramifications for U.S. hard-court events in Indian Wells and Miami, the WTA has joined the International Tennis Federation in supporting that option. "There's a lot of complications, a lot of issues, and at the end of the day my view is that the Australian Open has to make that call," WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said. No decision has been made by Tennis Australia, although Scott will meet Open officials over the weekend and the Grand Slam Committee will discuss the issue Thursday and Friday.
Fabulous Fabiola: Thanks to Fabiola Zuluaga, Colombians are suddenly putting soccer aside and paying attention to tennis. Zuluaga arrived for the Australian Open ranked 36th and without major ambitions. But Tuesday she advanced to the semifinals when Amelie Mauresmo pulled out shortly before the match because of a back injury. Colombia's newspapers splashed photos of her across front pages usually dominated by news of the long-running civil war. In 1996, she won her first victory abroad, at a tournament in Poland. In 2000, she reached the third round of the French Open, ending the year ranked 31st. She was sidelined for much of 2001 after twice undergoing surgery to try to correct a congenital right shoulder problem. She was almost forced to give up tennis. "In a country that has suffered so much, it's a breather to hear about the success of a Colombian in a sport as competitive as tennis," one of Zuluaga's coaches, Uriel Oquendo, said. "It's gratifying for everybody."
-- Associated Press