At French, Agassi out; Williamses advance
PARIS, June 6 (UPI) -- 11th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, playing perhaps his best-ever match Thursday, humbled No. 4 Andre Agassi, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, to reach the French Open semifinals for the third time in his career.
"This is very special to be able to be able to beat Agassi," Ferrero said. "He plays very quickly. This really makes him impressive because you're not able to make him play from the back. You have to be playing very well to beat him and doing it in the quarters is a great accomplishment for me. He's one of the greatest players ever."
Continuing a contest that started on Wednesday and was suspended because of rain at 6-3, 1-0, for Ferrero, the Spaniard used a wide variety of shots at all angles. He confounded Agassi with his heavy kick serve, gamely hung with him in crosscourt backhand rallies, and was more impressive from the forehand side, igniting rockets both down the line, at short angles and crosscourt.
"He makes you move around the whole time and the pace is quite fast," Ferrero said. "You have to try to wrap up the rallies every time or he's going to tire you out. I tried to dominate if I could."
Agassi came out much more motivated early than he had been on Wednesday while Ferrero took a little time to get his strokes grooved. Agassi broke serve to go ahead, 4-3, but was unable to serve the set out at 5-4. Ferrero then broke when Agassi dumped a swing volley into the net, and then committed a backhand error, but the American broke right back at love with a series of brutal groundstrokes to go ahead, 6-5. He then served out the set when Ferrero careened a forehand return long.
But the Spaniard immediately broke to open the third set and began to hit with more depth and purpose, jumping out to a 5-2 lead. Agassi began to force the action more, establishing himself in the center of the court and climbed back to 5-5. But he failed to take advantage of three break points, missing a backhand, knocking a forehand into the net, and then burying a huge forehead return into the net. Ferrero held to 6-5, and Agassi was clearly rattled, double faulting to set point and then sculling a forehand.
"It was a big opportunity there," Agassi said. "Those chances are going to come and go. There are times when you make them but that turned out to be pretty big. But as far as I was concerned, I was a 'hold' away from being in the breaker when I was planning on winning the set. He stepped up his game more than me being deflated. I felt he got out of jail there and let a few shots start to fly. You have to give him credit for the way he played."
Ferrero broke Agassi to jump ahead, 2-0, after he slapped a forehand passing shot down the line and then watched Agassi commit a backhand error. Agassi's frustration was apparent in the fifth game, when he screamed out loud after he missed a forehand long. Then, after floating a backhand volley wide, he made like a giant crane and flapped his arms, mocking his own volleying technique. The Spaniard won the match by crushing a forehand down the line.
In his first match against Ferrero, Agassi was very impressed.
"His game is big," Agassi said. "He can really hit the ball well off his forehand from both sides of the court. He hits it heavy and has a really heavy first serve. And when he has time on his backhand he's solid there, too. He's always looking to play offense and can play both strokes down the line and crosscourt. He's hard to stop and I'd put him as the favorite at this point."
Ferrero, who will now play Marat Safin of Russia, who he suffered a bad ankle sprain early in the tournament and thought he might not be able to play.
For the aging Agassi, it was a missed opportunity.
"I'm certainly aware of the opportunities being fewer and fewer," Agassi said. "I suppose for me this one has always been the most difficult to win and I felt like I was here giving myself a chance. Still, I look toward the future. Ever year the chances get less for everybody, but you are more aware of it when you get older. But I still like my game in most scenarios and like my chances if I keep working hard."
Elsewhere, completing a match that spanned three days, 18th-seed Alex Corretja needed just 11 minutes on Thursday morning to complete a 7-6, 7-5, 7-6 win over Romania's Andrei Pavel. The match was suspended due to darkness on Tuesday and the two never took the court on Wednesday due to rain.
The 18th-seeded Corretja will face No. 20 Albert Costa, his close friend, in the other semifinal. Costa advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-0 triumph over 15th-seeded Guillermo Canas of Argentina on Tuesday.
On the women's side, Venus Williams roared past a nervous Clarisa Fernandez of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4 to leap into the final, where little sister Serena awaits after she beat Jennifer Capriati in three sets earlier in the day.
Venus, obviously physically superior and playing her usually aggressive backcourt game, dominated Fernandez in 50 minutes. She overwhelmed the shell-shocked Fernandez, who could come up with just one winner during the entire encounter.
Serena outlasted Capriati, the defending champion, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, to gain her first Roland Garros final.
With the victory, Serena guaranteed that she would go to No. 2 in the world rankings on Monday, right behind her sister, Venus, who is No. 1. It is the first time in history that two sisters have been ranked in the top two spots.
'Canes try to surprise Wings again
DETROIT, June 6 (UPI) -- The Detroit Red Wings look to even the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at one game apiece Thursday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Two of the best-of-seven series.
Carolina, a heavy underdog entering the series, shocked the hockey world in Game One, beating the Presidents' Trophy winners, 3-2, in overtime.
Carolina captain Ron Francis, nicknamed "Ronnie Franchise", snuck a shot past Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek 58 seconds into the extra session to give the Hurricanes the early lead in their first-ever Stanley Cup Finals. Francis, appearing in his third Finals, scored the series clincher against Hasek in 1992 to give Pittsburgh a sweep of Chicago for its second consecutive championship. The 39-year-old, who began his career with the Hurricanes franchise in Hartford, returned to Carolina in 1998 after spending parts of eight seasons with the Penguins.
With the victory in Game One, the Hurricanes improved their postseason overtime record to 7-1, including three extra-session wins in the Eastern Conference finals against Toronto. Their lone setback came in Game Three of the conference semifinals to Montreal, 2-1. Only the 1993 Montreal Canadiens posted more overtime victories in a playoff season (10). Tuesday's triumph marked the Carolina franchise's first at Joe Louis Arena since Nov. 14, 1989, when Francis netted the game-winning goal for the Hartford Whalers. The organization had been 0-11
The Red Wings were given seven power-play opportunities in Game One, but only were able to cash in once and fell to 6-3 in their last nine playoff games at home.
Carolina, on the other hand, has won its last five road contests.
Trottier named Rangers' new coach
NEW YORK, June 6 (UPI) -- The New York Rangers Thursday announced that Bryan Trottier has been named as the team's new head coach. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Since joining the coaching ranks in 1994, Bryan Trottier has demonstrated the same type of passion, determination and knowledge of the game that he displayed during his Hall of Fame playing career," said Rangers' President and General Manager Glen Sather. "I am confident that he is the ideal leader for the New York Rangers and I am very proud to introduce him as our head coach."
Trottier, 44, who becomes the 30th head coach in Rangers history, has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach for the Colorado Avalanche. As a member of the Avalanche's coaching staff, Trottier was instrumental in keeping the team in the NHL's upper echelon, including helping the team to the 2001 Stanley Cup championship. In his role as an assistant, he was responsible for overseeing the specialty teams units, which ranked consistently among the league's best.
"Cablevision's goal is to provide fans and customers with the very best in sports and entertainment. Winning teams are an integral part of that commitment," said James L. Dolan, Chairman of Madison Square Garden and President and CEO of Cablevision Systems Corporation, which owns the franchise. "I am confident that Glen and his team, led by the addition of Bryan Trottier as our new head coach, will make the right decisions to ensure that our fans experience a strong and competitive Rangers team."
Prior to joining the Colorado organization, Trottier served as head coach and director of hockey operations for the Portland Pirates, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals, during the 1997-98 season. Trottier began his coaching career as an assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1994-97.
During his playing career, Trottier was regarded as one of the best two-way centers in the history of the NHL, as he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. The 18-year NHL veteran appeared in 1,279 regular season games with the Islanders and Penguins. He currently ranks 12th on the all-time scoring list and sixth on the all-time playoff scoring list. Trottier's playing career is highlighted with six Stanley Cup championships -- four with the Islanders (1980, '81, '82 and 1983), and two with the Penguins (1991 and '92).
Over the course of his NHL career, the eight-time All-Star was the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in 1976; the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player in 1979; and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 1980. He has also given his time to the community throughout his career and was honored with the King Clancy Memorial Award for his noteworthy humanitarian contributions in 1989.
The native of Val Marie, Saskatchewan, originally was selected by the Islanders with the 22nd overall choice in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft.
Reports indicated that he was also high on the list of the Capitals, who fired Ron Wilson last month.
France stays alive at World Cup
SEOUL, June 6 (UPI) -- Federico Magallanes, his long hair soaked with sweat, had it in his power Thursday night to send the defending World Cup champions home in disgrace.
He failed to do so, however, allowing France to escape with a scoreless tie against Uruguay and earn a chance to fight another day for its World Cup life.
As the month-long tournament completed its first week, Saudi Arabia managed to atone for its dismal showing earlier in the event, Denmark and Senegal played to a tie that left them deadlocked at the top of their group and anticipation grew for Friday's Argentina-England match.
The spotlight Thursday, however, fell on France and its desperate battle to avoid what would be a very embarrassing dismissal from the World Cup.
When Denmark and Senegal having tied at 1-1 during the afternoon Thursday, it meant that the loser of the Uruguay-France match in Pusan, if there was one, would have no chance to advance to the second round.
The elimination of Uruguay at this stage of the action would not have be all that surprising. But an exit by France would have been almost unthinkable. Blessed with tremendous depth, along with some of the best players in the world, France had been one of the heavy favorites to win the title for the second straight time.
To this point, however, the World Cup has been a nightmare for the French. Superstar midfielder Zinedine Zidane suffered a torn thigh muscle the weekend before the tournament began and, without him, France lost to Senegal in the opener.
Things did not improve Thursday. Frank Leboeuf was injured early in the match with Uruguay and in the 24th minute, Thierry Henry was given a red card for making a dangerous tackle. Playing a man down, France still generated as many chances as did Uruguay. But in the final moments of second-half stoppage time, Uruguay suddenly had the opportunity to end France's hopes.
Magallanes, who plays his club soccer in Italy, broke in alone and found himself face to face with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Magallanes had enough of an angle toward either corner so that if he had delivered a strong shot to either one, Barthez would have had no chance.
Instead, Magallanes hit a low liner only a few feet to Barthez' left. Nevertheless, the French keeper had to make a no-mistake lunge in order to get his left foot on the shot and deflect it away.
That ensured the first 0-0 match in this World Cup, one that came seven days and 20 games into the tournament. There were three 0-0 contests during group play in France four years ago.
France still has a long way to go to stay in the competition. Denmark and Senegal, by virtue of their tie, each have four points in Group A. France and Uruguay have one each. In order to reach the second round, France will have to score no less than a two-goal victory over Denmark when they play next Tuesday.
And since France has not scored a goal in either of its games thus far, that will be a tall order. Zidane is still a question mark and Henry will be unable to play because of the red card he received Thursday.
Denmark and Senegal played in Daegu and the focus of attention was Senegal striker Salif Diao.
His first-half foul gave Denmark the chance to score its goal and then Diao scored from in close to tie it. On top of that, he was sent off in the second half for a dangerous tackle.
Denmark will now have the chance to send France home as the third defending champion in World Cup history not to make it out of the first round.
"Everything is possible," Denmark coach Morten Olsen said. "Senegal has done it (beaten France)."
In Saitama, the question was not whether Cameroon would defeat Saudi Arabia, but by how much. The Saudis gave up eight goals to Germany last Saturday in what came close to being the most one-sided match in World Cup history.
But Saudi Arabia played much better Thursday, had some serious chances to score and held Cameroon to a 1-0 decision. Even though it showed much improvement, the Saudis became the first team to be eliminated.
"We recovered in this match to reflect a real picture of Saudi football," said Saudi Arabia coach Nassar Al Johar. "In the first match, we were all shocked by the Saudi performance.
"We promise that we will do our best in the final match (against Ireland) so that we can show the real quality of Saudi football and so that we say goodbye to the World Cup on a good note."
The way Group E has developed, it made no difference to Cameroon how many goals it scored Thursday as long as it won. Cameroon and Germany are tied for the group lead with four points, but Cameroon knows it must almost certainly beat Germany next Tuesday to have a chance to move on. That is because Ireland, which currently has two points, will be the heavy favorite to beat Saudi Arabia and thus increase its point total to five.
Germany was within seconds of clinching a second-round berth on Wednesday, only to have Ireland score shortly before the final whistle to earn a 1-1 tie. Now Germany could be eliminated if it loses to Cameroon on Tuesday.
In action Friday, Spain will try to move into the second round when it takes on Paraguay in Jeonju and Sweden will play Nigeria in Kobe -- both teams needing a victory to have a realistic hope of advancing.
The main attraction, however, will come in Sapporo, where Argentina will face England.
Those countries played one of the most famous matches in World Cup history 16 years ago in Mexico when Argentina eliminated England in the quarterfinals thanks chiefly to the goal Maradonna scored by ushering the ball into the net with his hand.
And Argentina eliminated England in the round of 16 via penalty kicks at the 1998 World Cup.
Argentina can again deal England a devastating blow with a victory Friday. The Argentines, who led South American qualifying and came into the tournament as one of the favorites, have three points by virtue of a win over Nigeria. England tied Sweden in its first match and needs the full three points to feel comfortable about moving on to the next round.
Tigers option Greisinger to minors
DETROIT, June 6 (UPI) -- The Detroit Tigers Thursday optioned right-hander Seth Greisinger to Triple-A Toledo of the International League.
On Friday, southpaw Mike Maroth will be recalled from Toledo prior to the game against Philadelphia to take Greisinger's spot in the rotation.
Greisinger was 2-2 with a 6.21 ERA in eight starts for the Tigers since his recall from Double-A Erie on April 26. He has struggled lately, going 0-1 with a 12.66 ERA in his last three starts. He missed the entire 2000 and 2001 seasons and all but three minor league starts in 1999 while recovering from "Tommy John" ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow performed on June 15, 1999, by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Al.
He earned his first win since Sept. 25, 1998 against Chicago in his start on May 7 at Anaheim. Greisinger worked seven scoreless innings and allowed just four hits in the 3-0 win.
Maroth posted an 8-1 record in 11 starts for Toledo. His eight wins are tied for tops in the International League and his 2.82 ERA is 11th in the league. Opponents have batted just .201 against him.
Maroth is scheduled to start Sunday's game against the Phillies at Comerica Park. It will be his major league debut.
Royals put Knoblauch on DL
CHICAGO, June 6 (UPI) -- Chuck Knoblauch's first season with the Kansas City Royals took another turn for the worse Thursday when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left forearm.
Knoblauch suffered the injury on a check swing in the sixth inning of the Royals' 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Knoblauch is hitting just .167 with three homers and 14 RBI in 42 games. The four-time All-Star as a second baseman spent the past four seasons with the New York Yankees after seven years with the Minnesota Twins.
He experienced throwing problems during his tenure with the Yankees and they moved him from second base to the outfield, where he has played this year.
The Royals called up outfielder Brandon Berger from Triple-A Omaha of the Pacific Coast League to replace Knoblauch on the roster. Berger joins Kansas City for the third time this season, and has hit .278 in 16 games with the parent club.
Knoblauch is the second Kansas City player in as many days to land on the disabled list. Reliever Jason Grimsley went on the DL on Wednesday with a left oblique strain.
Reds activate Silva
CINCINNATI, June 6 (UPI) -- Righthander Jose Silva, who has not pitched this season after undergoing elbow surgery in early March, Thursday was activated from the 15-day disabled list by the Cincinnati Reds.
Silva had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his pitching elbow on March 4. He was 0-1 with a 1.13 ERA in 10 appearances on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville of the
Silva, acquired from Pittsburgh last December for minor league pitcher Ben Shaffar, was 3-3 with a 6.76 ERA in 26 relief appearances for the Pirates last season.
The Reds had an open roster spot after pitcher Luis Pineda was optioned to Louisville on Wednesday.