Planets don\'t align for T.O. event as Venus pulls out

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

Venus Williams should not expect to receive many \"Get Well Soon\" cards from Toronto tennis fans.

On a terrible day for the Rogers AT&T Cup, the world\'s fifth-ranked player continued a late withdrawal trend yesterday as she dropped out of next week\'s tournament because of an abdominal strain that has affected her since May.

No. 8 Chanda Rubin (right shoulder tendinitis) and No. 29 Alexandra Stevenson (right shoulder strain) also withdrew yesterday from the event at the National Tennis Centre at York University, leaving just six of the top 10 ranked players in the field.

Seeing as this happens almost every year at the Tier 1 event, it\'s little wonder tournament director Stacey Allester is asking for a rankings formula change.

\"I don\'t have have any confidence in the player entry system and advanced commitment ... There needs to be an overhaul of the system,\" Allester said.

The WTA averages players\' 17 best tournaments (any class) each year to develop rankings. Playing fewer than five of the nine Tier I events results in a financial penalty ($12,500 US for each tourney under the minimum), but no rankings hit.

HARSH PENALTY

On the men\'s side, players who miss a Tier I event receive zero ranking points, a harsh penalty.

Not coincidentally, all of the top 10 players competed in the the Tier I men\'s event this week in Montreal. New WTA CEO Larry Scott, the former CEO of the men\'s tour, has told Allester his top priority is to change the system.

Williams, however, appears to be legitimately hurt. She has withdrawn from two other events this summer.

\"We say to the fans we\'re sorry and we\'re disappointed and we can only hope for the game that she becomes healthy sooner rather than later,\" Allester said.

IMG\'s Carlos Fleming, who represents Williams, did not return The Sun\'s calls. Williams has played in this event just twice, suffering first-round losses in 1995 and 1997.

\"The overall quality of our product is still fantastic,\" Allester said. \"We have two of the hottest players on tour in (Belgians) Kim (Clijsters) and Justine (Henin-Hardenne) and there is great depth in the field.\"

Allester talked this week to Jennifer Capriati\'s father Stefano, who said the No. 7 player, recovering from a minor chest injury, will play. The withdrawals push leggy Russian teen Maria Sharapova, who advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon as a wild-card, into the main draw.

Williams\' sister, top-ranked Serena, originally backed out because of a scheduling conflict but now has a knee injury requiring surgery that will keep her out of the U.S. Open.

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SOME MISSING MISSES

Notable players who have dropped out of this year\'s Rogers AT&T Cup at the National Tennis Centre at York University:

- Monica Seles

left foot injury

- Anna Kournikova

back injury

- Serena Williams

knee injury

- Venus Williams

abdominal injury

- Chanda Rubin

right shoulder injury

- Alexandra Stevenson

right shoulder injury


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