TENNIS ROUNDUP : Becker's Back Problem Stirs Conflicting Reports

From Associated Press

A German newspaper reported that Boris Becker has a career-threatening back problem. However, a men's tennis tour official says the world's No. 2-ranked player is preparing to resume a full tournament schedule.

Becker's manager, Ion Tiriac, told the Bild newspaper that Becker has been unable to walk normally since the U.S. Open.

"Boris is not well at all. The back injury is unfortunately chronic," Bild quoted Tiriac as saying.

However, an Assn. of Tennis Professionals spokesman said Becker has been practicing in Monaco with his coach, Tomas Smid.

"Do I look as though I have a back injury?" Richard Evans quoted Becker as saying.

Evans said Becker planned to play tournaments in Sydney, Tokyo, Stockholm and Paris within a five-week span starting Sept. 30. Becker's injury forced him to pull out of Germany's Davis Cup semifinal against the United States this weekend in Kansas City, Mo.

Tiriac told Bild that Becker was upset by his injury.

"The physical weakness is always on his mind. It makes him tense and that makes things even worse," Tiriac said.

Tiriac said that only special daily exercises could ease Becker's back problems, which apparently have been aggravated by playing on hard courts.

Argentina's Mercedes Paz upset third-seeded Radja Zrubakova of Czechoslovakia, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals of the Paris Women's Open. Top-seeded Conchita Martinez of Spain beat Sabine Hack of Germany, 6-0, 6-3.

Japan's Maya Kidowaki, overcoming a pulled leg muscle, beat Carrie Cunningham, 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, in the second round of the Nichirei International Ladies tournament at Tokyo.

Kidowaki said: "I was determined not to leave the court even if I died."

Cunningham, ranked 53rd in the world, beat eighth-seeded Kimiko Date of Japan in the first round.

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