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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Madrid models divide opinions
Andre Agassi is not convinced by the presence of models on court
The decision by organisers of the Madrid Masters to replace ball boys and girls with female models has certainly given the tournament plenty of media coverage.

A Spanish politician has complained it is sexist, ousted youngsters are distraught at being sidelined, and even Andre Agassi has voiced his concern.

At the same time, a number of players - including Tim Henman - have seen the positive side.

Either way, after three days of action there have not been any major errors and, according to tournament director Manolo Santana: "The models are going to stay."

There are 25 models, aged 19 to 28, working on most of the televised matches.

Wearing black tank tops and white, knee-length skirts, they are reportedly paid 600 for the week after undergoing two weeks of training.

"I think it is important for our sport to understand its product clearly, and I'm not quite convinced this is part of our product," said Agassi.

They certainly look good from where I've been sitting
Tim Henman
"It was difficult, to say the least, to concentrate on the ball, but I suppose I had an advantage - I'm used to playing with my wife (Steffi Graf)."

The American's comments came after politician Soledad Murillo, Secretary for Equality, described the move as "a clearly discriminatory vision of women".

And one irate ball boy told Madrid sports paper Marca: "They give us a sandwich and the girls get a wage."

However, some of the players are more than happy with the new arrangements.

"It's something different, isn't it," said Henman. "They certainly look good from where I've been sitting."

Speaking after his opening match on Tuesday, Albert Costa said: "They did it very well. I didn't notice any difference. It's entertaining."

Alex Corretja, handed a wild card by the organisers, was not about to disagree.

"No one is speaking about this in the locker room," he said. "You only look at the ball anyway out there.

"If they throw us the balls as they should, it's fine."

And even Agassi allowed his mind to wander into less politically correct territory.

"The skirts look like they're a little difficult to run in," said the Las Vegan.

"I think they need to be shorter, maybe."


SEE ALSO
Henman plans Madrid return
07 Oct 04 |  Tennis


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