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Men's and women's tours work to cross paths

Tennis has undergone several changes lately, and it may be about to change again.

There reportedly is talk among officials from the men's and women's tours about aligning in some form. The tours have enjoyed noticeable success when they've staged tournaments simultaneously as they did at last week's jointly held Evert Cup and Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. They play together again this week at the Lipton Championships.

Other than the four Grand Slam tournaments, those are the only times the tours cross paths. The talk, though, is for three more joint tournaments, in Hamburg, Rome and Cincinnati, plus a uniform ranking system.

"I've believed in this concept since 1978, that we need to create more Grand Slam-like events," Charlie Pasarell, tournament director for the highly successful Indian Wells event, told the New York Times. "We just proved again what the Lipton proved 10 years ago and what the Grand Slams have been proving for the past hundred years."

Word is, there's apprehension among the women's camp that the women's game might end up playing second chair. But if everything is ironed out, the joint effort could take shape in two or three years.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Including last year and this year, which ATP Tour player has won the most hard-court matches on U.S. soil?

CHARITY'S TOP ACE: Tampa's Pete Sampras found a way to make his opponents almost feel good when he aces them. He is donating money for every ace he hits this season to three charities, including the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation. Sampras' "Aces for Charity" program could prove to be lucrative. He has 193 aces and generally about 1,000 every season.

DID YOU KNOW?: Goran Ivanisevic leads the ATP Tour in aces with 449. Last year he broke his own record with 1,477.

ON WITH THE SHOW: The new joint awards gala between the ATP Tour and the WTA TOUR is scheduled for Wednesday night in Miami as a kickoff to the Lipton. The event, "Tennis by Dennis," features comedian/host Dennis Miller.

Pros Mary Pierce, Amanda Coetzer, Patrick Rafter, Mark Philippoussis and Todd Martin are scheduled to be involved in comedy skits during the show.

STAT OF THE WEEK: You never can count out Sampras, apparently. He has the best winning percentage of all players since 1990 in terms of winning matches after losing the first set (51.2 percent). Boris Becker is second (46.3 percent) and Andre Agassi is third (39.6 percent).

BORIS HEADING WEST: Word is, Becker has left Germany and moved to Miami. Reports out of Germany say Becker and his family left within the last week.

Apparently, Becker, his wife, Barbara, and their 3-year-old son, Noah, left Germany partly because of problems they encountered as an interracial family. Although this may surprise some people, Becker has said he believed his son could lead a more normal life in a racially diverse country like the United States.

INJURED LIST: Pierce, who pulled out of last week's Evert Cup, is nursing a right calf strain. No word on when she'll return to the tour. Likewise for Meredith McGrath, who is expected to have surgery on her injured right knee.

MAKING THE SHOW: Kristina Brandi, a promising 19-year-old Tampa pro who reached the Australian Open third round, received a wild card into the Lipton.

CHANGE AT THE TOP: WTA TOUR CEO Anne Person Worcester announced she will resign at the end of this year. Worcester, 36, who took the job in September 1994, is expecting her second child.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Michael Chang, 54.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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