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Tax investigation of Steffi Graf ends

Prosecutors dropped their investigation into Steffi Graf's taxes Wednesday in return for the tennis star paying a fine and making a charitable contribution.

Graf said she accepted the deal "with a heavy heart, although I know that I have nothing to blame myself for and did nothing to make myself liable to prosecution."

The amounts were not disclosed by either side.

Graf, who at the end of this month is to lose her No. 1 ranking to Martina Hingis, said she wants to concentrate fully on tennis again. She has been sidelined recently because of a knee injury.

Graf's father, Peter, was convicted in January of evading millions of dollars in taxes on his daughter's winnings and sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

The judge then recommended dropping the investigation into Steffi Graf's role, saying he believed her father bore most of the responsibility.

Mannheim prosecutor Horst Kuehner said Wednesday his office believed Steffi Graf was partly responsible but that the fine was enough to satisfy the public interest.

"She accepted the results, and that's enough for us," he said.

Lipton Championships

This time Jana Novotna's collapse came after the match.

Novotna barely rose above her reputation for choking in the quarterfinals at Key Biscayne. She survived 63 unforced errors and 2{ hours in the sun to outlast Iva Majoli 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7).

When Majoli blew an overhead on the final point, Novotna crumpled at the baseline and remained on her back for 10 seconds, flinging her headband in celebration.

"It was just such a relief that you could not believe it," Novotna said. "I was just lying there saying, "That's it. I don't have to run any farther.' "

The third-seeded Novotna advanced to today's semifinals against top seed Hingis, who blitzed No. 10 Mary Joe Fernandez 6-4, 6-1. Trailing 4-3 in the first set, Hingis won 10 consecutive points to seize the momentum, and she lost only 12 points in the second set.

Novotna has beaten Hingis in their two most recent matches. No. 4 Monica Seles and No. 11 Barbara Paulus meet in the other semifinal tonight.

While Novotna stumbled past Majoli, top-ranked Pete Sampras won by walkover against unseeded Hendrik Dreekmann, who couldn't take the court due to a sprained ankle.

Sampras' opponent in the semifinals Friday will be Sergi Bruguera, who beat unseeded Andrei Medvedev 6-0, 6-3. Bruguera lost only three points in the first set and raced to a 5-0 lead in the second.

Dreekmann sprained his right ankle Tuesday night when he tripped over uneven pavement while walking to his hotel after dinner.

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