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International Players Championships : In Another Five-Set Match, Noah Beats Hlasek

Times Staff Writer

Time has been on Yannick Noah’s side.

In four matches, Noah has labored 13 hours 36 minutes, playing five-set matches three times in succession and taking so long to win that he may soon be timed with a calendar instead of a clock.

Noah did it the hard way again Monday in his 3-hour 32-minute, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland in the fourth round of the Lipton International Players Championships.

It wasn’t over until Noah broke Hlasek for the third time in the fifth set, when, on the second match point, Hlasek hit an easy volley wide with Noah helplessly out of position.

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Afterward, Noah was quite naturally relieved.

“I just couldn’t believe he missed that one,” Noah said.

Hlasek’s explanation: “I just missed it. That’s how it is in tennis.”

And so it is. Hlasek also missed a chance to end a remarkable string of five-set matches by Noah in this tournament that has run from Bill Scanlon to Alexander Volkov to Hlasek. If he plays any longer matches, Noah may leave the court with one big hand and one little hand.

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Noah almost left the court with one big upset stomach before the 10th game in the fifth set. Noah vomited at the changeover, and when he took too much time to recover, he was penalized a point by umpire Rudi Berger.

“I was not thinking about the match,” Noah said. “I was thinking about trying to breathe.”

Noah meets Carl-Uwe Steeb in the quarterfinals. Steeb, ranked No. 96 in the world, followed up his first-round victory over No. 3-seeded Andre Agassi with a 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 14 Mikael Pernfors.

"(Noah) is winning the long matches,” Steeb said. “I cannot expect that he will be tired, but I hope so.”

In women’s play, top-ranked Gabriela Sabatini swept unseeded Ann Grossman, 6-4, 7-6. Tenth-seeded Lori McNeil double-faulted five times in one game and lost to No. 3 Helena Sukova, 6-3, 6-2.

The Assn. of Tennis Professionals Tour announced Monday that International Management Group (IMG) will be its agent to sell presenting sponsor rights, international television rights and ATP Tour Finals rights.

The Cleveland-based IMG agreed to pay $56.1 million over the next three years to the ATP Tour for the right to sell the presenting sponsor’s package.

IMG is a management firm that represents numerous athletes, among them four of the top 10 men’s tennis players: Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi and Kent Carlsson. Even though IMG has close ties to certain tennis players as well as owning a number of U.S. tournaments, Hamilton Jordan, the ATP’s chief executive officer, sees no conflict of interest.

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“We are the principal and they are the marketing agent,” he said. “I’m not worried about a conflict of interest and I’m not worried about IMG taking advantage of its relationship with us.”

Apparently, others are not as sure. Austrian Thomas Muster, ranked No. 14 in the world, was not happy with IMG’s relationship with the 1990 ATP Tour. Muster, in fact, has a different name for it.

“It’s the IMG Tour,” Muster said.

An independent, Muster is not represented by any management group. He said Jordan should have consulted the players before bringing IMG aboard.

Among the television rights IMG bought was a package of 26 one-hour highlight shows, which Muster fears may become highlight shows of IMG clients.

In fact, IMG could be in the position of guaranteeing television networks that players it represents will play in tournaments it owns.

“This is a monopoly for IMG,” Muster said.

However, Jordan said other management companies, such as ProServ and Advantage International, can bid on marketing the remaining ATP properties, such as the ATP Tour finals, the proposed ATP senior tour and merchandising and licensing.

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“We’ll have business relationships with other management companies,” Jordan said.

Jerry Solomon, executive vice president and chief executive officer at ProServ, said his company’s interest cooled when the fees started climbing toward the $56.1 million that IMG agreed to.

“I’m frankly happier it’s them on the line for $56.1 million than us,” Solomon said.

Nabisco paid about $3.5 million for the 1989 Grand Prix tour sponsorship rights. IMG guaranteed the ATP $17.2 million in 1990, $18.7 million in 1991 and $20.2 million in 1992.


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