I do declare! I feel for Nicole.
Pratt slams Hopman organisers
By Selina Steele
AUSTRALIA'S highest-ranked woman tennis player, Nicole Pratt, reckons she would have a better chance of playing in next weekend's Hopman Cup if she looked like Anna Kournikova.
That was the reality of trying to sell the game to the public, a disappointed Pratt said.
Alicia Molik, ranked 94 -- which is 46 places behind Pratt at 48 -- will join Lleyton Hewitt as Australia's side in the international mixed teams tournament in Perth.
Pratt will be on the Gold Coast for the Australian Women's Hardcourt titles at Royal Pines.
Pratt, 29, said: "I was expecting to play. I enjoy playing for my country and the Hopman Cup is about representing Australia, so I'm disappointed not to be there.
"But I understand tennis is about entertainment and they need to sell tickets.
"I think Anna Kournikova is a great asset to our tour, she brings a whole new spectrum of fans.
"It's always debatable whether these types of players should receive as much publicity as other players who actually perform."
Kournikova, an international sex symbol, is a major drawcard on the tennis circuit without ever winning a singles tournament.
Hopman Cup tournament director Paul McNamee said Pratt had been bypassed because of Hewitt's sense of loyalty to Molik, 21.
Hewitt and Molik were in the semi-finals of the 2002 Hopman Cup when Hewitt was forced to forfeit his matches after contracting chicken pox.
McNamee said Hewitt wanted to make it up to Molik.
"I got the word from Hewitt's management that he felt he should be playing with Alicia. It's unfair to hurt Lleyton when he was doing it out of a sense of loyalty to someone."
McNamee said Pratt had contacted him about her disappointment. He said: "You don't always pick the No. 1 player. If she had been in the Top 20 it would have been a different story."
Pratt said her disappointment was with McNamee and not Hewitt. "It's the tournament director who makes the decision on who will represent Australia, and my disappointment lies with Paul McNamee's decision," she said.
"Clearly I've had the better results, the better ranking. All the facts are there to say I should play but, at the end of the day, I won't."
Pratt will arrive at the Gold Coast on Thursday for the Hardcourts that run from Sunday to January 4, the same as the Hopman Cup.