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Nadal sues former French minister who accused him of doping

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MADRID (AP) Rafael Nadal filed suit Monday against a former French minister who accused him of doping, saying he needs to defend his integrity and image as an athlete.

The Spanish tennis star said his lawyers lodged the defamation suit in Paris against Roselyne Bachelot because of her “offensive remarks” on French television last month.

Bachelot, France’s former minister for health and sport, said on TV show Le Grand 8 that the Spaniard’s seven-month injury hiatus in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test.”

“Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career,” Nadal said in a statement. “I also wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished.”

He said that if he wins the case, any compensation awarded by the judge will be “paid back in full to an NGO or foundation in France.”

Bachelot’s remarks upset Nadal and outraged Spaniards, including many fellow athletes who quickly came out to defend the tennis star. The Spanish Olympic Committee and members of the Spanish government also loudly criticized the former French minister.

Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, called Bachelot “an imbecile,” according to Spanish media.

A 14-time Grand Slam champion and the gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Nadal is one of Spain’s biggest sports idols.

The president of Spain’s Olympic committee said he would like to see Nadal as the country’s flag bearer at the Rio de Janeiro Games, in part to make a statement after the recent accusations made by Bachelot.

Alejandro Blanco said Nadal “is a reference” and deserves the honor “after how he has been treated” by the former French minister. Nadal had been selected as Spain’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Olympics but missed the games because of an injury.

Nadal expressed his “complete trust in the French justice system” which will handle the lawsuit and said that he will not make any further statements about the case.

Bachelot’s allegations came in the wake of Maria Sharapova’s failed doping test.

World Cup of Tennis put on hold for at least a year

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LONDON–The International Tennis Federation is putting off its proposal for a World Cup of Tennis Finals for another year.

The ITF said last month it wanted to combine next year’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals into one event to raise the profile of the two national team competitions. But on Thursday, the governing body said it would not put the motion to a vote at its annual general meeting next month in Vietnam.

Other proposals, such as reducing the men’s matches to best-of-three sets and possibly skipping the final match of the series if it is already decided, will still go before member nations for ratification at the Aug. 4 meeting in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We promised change and are already delivering change with a significant series of reforms,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “Taking another year to build consensus around the World Cup of Tennis Finals will allow us to finalize an even stronger recommendation to the AGM.”

Last month, the ITF said it wanted to start staging the World Cup of Tennis in November 2018 in Geneva. The Swiss city was to host the event for three years at its 18,000-seat Palexpo.

The ITF said then that it had made the announcement of the host city well in advance in an effort to follow the successful model used by the Super Bowl and Champions League final.

But that has now been put on hold as the governing body tries to sell its idea to its voting members.

“This decision shows that we do not act unilaterally,” Haggerty said, “and are working with all our stakeholders to find the best solution for tennis.”

Haggerty also announced the creation of a World Cup of Tennis Finals task force. Board members Katrina Adams and Bernard Giudicelli have been appointed as co-chairs.

“The World Cup of Tennis Finals will unlock considerable new revenue for investing back into the sport through the ITF’s member nations,” Haggerty said. “Investment in the development of the next generation remains the priority of the ITF and its national associations.”

U.S. Open singles champions to earn record $3.7 million

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Total player compensation at the U.S. Open will top $50 million for the first time this year, with a record $3.7 million going to each of the singles champions.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Tuesday that the total purse for the tournament will be $50.4 million, a nearly 9 percent increase from last year. The previous winners of the final Grand Slam tournament of the season – Stan Wawrinka and Angelique Kerber – earned $3.5 million.

Runners-up will get $1.825 million, up from $1.75 million.

Both the men’s and women’s doubles champions will earn $675,000, the highest in U.S. Open history. A player who loses in the first round of singles at Queens’ Flushing Meadows will make $50,000, an increase of $6,700.

The U.S. Open starts on Aug. 28.