Andre Agassi, Boris Becker and Yannick Noah will be among those who will participate in the Nelson Mandela Tribute in December.
The three-day celebration of Mandela’s life is to raise money for the South African president’s organization, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
“I think Nelson Mandela, the respect that the world has for him, speaks for itself,” Agassi said Friday. “His interest in children’s lives is certainly one which you can only want to do more for because you know every dime that’s made is going to make the difference… . I certainly believe in the cause.”
The Dec. 12-14 festival, which was announced during the U.S. Open on Friday, was conceived by ATP Tour pro Gary Muller, who is coordinating the project. Besides Agassi, Becker and Noah, others who will participate include Wayne Ferreira, Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek, Todd Martin, Leander Paes, MaliVai Washington, Amanda Coetzer and Iva Majoli.
“I am proud to embrace the Nelson Mandela Tribute,” Becker said. “Barbara (Becker, his wife) and I recognize President Mandela as a very special person and someone we’ve always wanted to meet. When we were asked to participate in this event and learned that it would benefit the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, we immediately realized the importance of being involved.”
Fan aces serve competition
Richard Storey has lived every tennis fan’s dream.
The 39-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, defeated tennis pro David Witt in a battle of big serves on Friday.
In a best-of-3 competition, Storey had serves of 133, 126 and 132 mph to Witt’s 118, 115 and 110.
Earlier this week, Storey challenged plus-140 mph servers Mark Philippoussis, Greg Rusedski and Julian Alonso. Alonso accepted the challenge, but withdrew Friday morning with a sore wrist. Witt, fifth last year at 134 mph, stepped in.
A quick departure
Lilia Osterloh’s pro debut came to an end when she was ousted from the U.S. Open by 11th-seeded Irina Spirlea of Romania 6-2, 7-5 Friday in a third-round match.
Osterloh, who won the NCAA singles title for Stanford as a freshman last May, has made a big impression during the U.S. Open, her first tournament since turning pro. So impressed was WCBS-TV in New York that the station has invited Osterloh to do some analysis of the tournament for its sports segments.
Natasha Zvereva was almost defaulted from her third-round match against ninth-seeded Mary Pierce when she accidentally hit a ball girl with a ball.
When Zvereva lunged and missed during a rally, the ball ricocheted off the back wall. Angry with herself, Zvereva swatted the ball. At the same time, the ball girl had moved out to get the ball since the point was over.
The batted ball hit the ball girl in the jaw and play was suspended while officials gathered to determine Zverva’s fate.
“I thought the rule was a default,” Pierce said. “But then I learned from the chair umpire that it’s up to the referee to make that decision.”
Zvereva was only given a warning.
Pierce won the match 7-6 (7-2), 6-1.
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