Citing illness, Graf quits Australian OpenThree-time...

Sports briefly mzB

January 14, 1992

Citing illness, Graf quits Australian Open

Three-time Australian Open tennis champion Steffi Graf of Germany withdrew from the tournament today, citing a viral infection. The Women's Tennis Association made the announcement just hours before she was due to play her first-round match against compatriot Katja Oeljeklaus.

American John McEnroe, meanwhile, played one of his best matches in a long time with a 6-2, 6-0, 6-1 first-round victory over Australian left-hander Brod Dyke on the same court where he was thrown out of the tournament two years ago.

Monica Seles, 18, began defense of her Australian title with a 6-2, 6-0 romp yesterday over Akiko Kijimuta, a three-time loser in the first round at Melbourne. An Australian tabloid greeted Seles' return with a caricature -- her savagely twisted face on Madonna's body, satin bustier and lace stockings. "I would really like it if people could get away from the Madonna [comparison] because that's not me," Seles said. "My personality and everything is so different. I said I liked one of her songs, but that doesn't mean I want to be her."

Athlete of the Year

Michael Jordan, who led his Chicago Bulls to the NBA title and won league MVP along the way, was named as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 1991. "My God, Athlete of the Year," Jordan said. "I've had lots of awards, but when it comes from writers and the media, it's special."

Jordan is the second basketball player to win in the 61-year history of the award. Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics was AP Male Athlete of the Year in 1986. The Baltimore Orioles' Cal Ripken, the American League MVP, finished fifth.

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