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In Sports from United Press International

  |   June 9, 2002 at 1:54 AM
A spectacular sporting Saturday around the world began in Asia with controversy at the World Cup, continued in Paris with the meeting of sisters in the French Open final, warmed up in New York with a bid for racing's Triple Crown, turned brutal in Memphis with a one-sided heavyweight championship fight and finally went into the early hours of Sunday with a three overtime thriller in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

In order of appearance, the long day of historic action included:


Italy falls in controversial fashion

IBARAKI, Japan, June 9 (UPI) -- The surprises continued to pile up at the World Cup Saturday, leaving South Africa delighted and Italy outraged.

For the first time in World Cup history, South Africa walked off the field a winner, recording a goal in the opening minutes against Slovenia and making it hold up for a 1-0 victory in Daegu. Slovenia became the first European team to be eliminated from the competition and South Africa created a chance to move into the second round.

Italy, meanwhile, suffered a very unexpected 2-1 loss in Ibaraki against Croatia. The Italians scored first, but then suffered two late lapses. In addition, Italy had a ball bounce off the post, had one goal negated by an apparently mis-called offsides and had yet another goal waived off when the referee said an Italian pulled the shirt of a Croatian defender.

"We have been robbed," Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni said.

The only thing that went according to form Saturday was Brazil's victory over China in Seogwipo, a 4-0 decision that left the Brazilians on the verge of moving into the second round. The Chinese will go home after three games of their first World Cup trip.

The unlikely and the controversial have become the norm in this World Cup, beginning with defending champion France's loss in the opening game to Senegal. Almost every day since then has seen an unpredicted result or an officiating mistake that has brought screams of protests from the loser.

On Saturday, both of those things happened when Croatia met Italy.

Although Croatia finished third in the 1998 World Cup, it was not expected to make many waves this time and that belief was driven home last Monday when Mexico downed the Croatians, 1-0.

Italy was the heavy favorite to produce a win that would see it through the second round and victory appeared likely when Christian Vieri put the Italians in front 10 minutes after halftime.

But in the space of three minutes, Ivica Olic and Milan Rapaic scored for Croatia, Rapaic's goal coming on a lucky shot that deflected off the foot of Italy's Marco Materazzi and over the head of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Italy then came up on the short end of two key decisions by the officials. In the 50th minute, Francesco Totti flicked a ball to Vieri, who put the ball in the net. Totti, however, was ruled offsides despite the fact it appeared he was level with the defender.

And in stoppage time, a goal was negated because Filippo Inzaghi was judged to have tugged at the shirt of an opposing player.

All of that left the Italian camp in disbelief.


Serena defeats sister for French title

PARIS, June 9 (UPI) -- Serena Williams beat older sibling Venus Saturday to capture the women's singles championship at the French Open.

No. 3 Serena Williams posted a 7-5, 6-3 victory over her second-seeded sister in 91 minutes to claim her second career Grand Slam crown. She captured the U.S. Open in 1999.

This was the second time in the Open Era that two sisters met for a major singles title. Venus beat Serena in the championship match in last year's U.S. Open and leads the all-time matchup, 5-3.

Serena has turned the tables somewhat this season. The first Williams sister to win a major, she defeated Venus in a WTA Tour tournament match for the first time in the semifinals at Miami in March and Saturday notched her first victory over her sister in a Grand Slam.

Venus won their earlier meetings at the 1998 Australian Open, 2000 Wimbledon and U.S. Open last season. Their match in New York last September was the first major final between siblings since Maud Watson defeated sister Lillian at Wimbledon in 1884.


War Emblem misses out on Triple Crown

ELMONT, N.Y., June 9 (UPI) -- For the 24th straight year, there is no Triple Crown winner.

Instead, Saturday's $1 million Belmont Stakes -- the third jewel of the Triple Crown -- ended in the biggest upset in the 134-year history of the race.

Sarava, making just his second stakes start, swept to the lead on the turn for home and went on to win by a half length over Medaglio d'Oro. A $2 win bet on Sarava paid $142.50.

War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, stumbed out of the gate Saturday and almost threw his jockey. That major misstep cost him the lead and, according to both jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Bob Baffert, any chance to win the race.

Espinoza worked War Emblem into contention and actually took the lead on the turn for home. But running from behind is not the colt's style and he could not maintain the effort. He faded to beat just three horses in the 11-horse field.

"It was lost at the start," Baffert said. "I told Victor the only thing that could beat us was a bad break."

War Emblem suffered more than a bad break. He almost fell to his knees as he stumbled for several steps at the start.

"I saw the ground very close to me," Espinoza said. "I was very lucky to stay on the horse."

That let Megaglio d'Oro take the initial lead, later joined by Wiseman's Ferry. Espinoza then found himself boxed in down the backstretch, although he slipped through on the rail on the far turn and seemed to be poised for a stretch run that would have put him in the history book.

But Espinoza ran out of horse, something he said he knew would happen seconds after the start of the race.

Sarava, meanwhile, was hanging around close to the lead, having followed War Emblem along the rail to the end of the backstretch.

When jockey Edgar Prado asked him to run, he easily went by the leaders at the top of the stretch. Medaglia d'Oro, who led from the mile pole to the top of the stretch, held on gamely and finished 9 1/2 lengths ahead of Sunday Break.

War Emblem finished eighth, beaten 19 1/2 lengths.


Lewis batters Tyson

MEMPHIS, Tenn., June 9 (UPI) -- Lennox Lewis hammered Mike Tyson over seven rounds Saturday night before knocking him out in the eighth and not only retained his WBC and IBF heavyweight titles but may have earned himself an elevated place in boxing history.

Lewis dropped Tyson with a vicious overhand right with 25 seconds left in the round and the former champion could not beat referee Eddie Cotton's count.

Lewis (40-2-1, 31 KOs) controlled the majority of the action as Tyson was a mere shell of his fighting self. The champion outboxed Tyson with steady jabs and right hands. Tyson (49-4), bleeding from both eyes after the methodical beating, had none of the punching power that was his trademark as champion.

"I wanted to prove to the people I am the best fighter, in the world -- on the planet," Lewis said. "I showed boxing who the best is, a pugilist specialist."

"In competition the best man has to win," Tyson said. "I am happy for him to give me a fight, the payday was wonderful, and if you could be kind enough, I would like to do it again."

Tyson appeared to run out of steam early and became a punching bag for the taller Lewis -- whose constant jabs and occasional uppercuts brought blood to Tyson's face and swelling over his right eye.

By the fourth round, Lewis was in complete control -- even though he had a point taken away from him in that round for holding.

Early in the eighth round, Tyson went to one knee after a solid right uppercut and received a standing eight count. Once the fight resumed, however, Tyson was unable to defend himself and went down for good when he took the big overhand right.


Red Wings win in third overtime

RALEIGH, N.C., June 9 (UPI) -- Igor Larionov scored his second goal of the game four periods after he scored his first one Saturday night, giving the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and a 2-1 advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Larionov, the oldest player in the NHL at 41, produced his goal with 5:13 remaining in the third overtime period, making it the third-longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history.

Larionov got past Bates Battaglia down the left side and through the slot before lifting a backhander over Arturs Irbe. Detroit defenseman Mathieu Dandenault had been tied up with Irbe, but jumped to avoid the goaltender just before Larionov scored his first overtime goal in 143 career playoff games.

Carolina, playing the first finals game ever staged in the state, appeared heading for victory until Brett Hull tied it with 74 seconds left in regulation.

Hull lifted his stick waist high to tip a shot by Nicklas Lidstrom and it deflected past Irbe.

Detroit regained home-ice advantage in the series, which will resume Monday night in Raleigh.


Bonds hits mammoth homer

NEW YORK, June 9 (UPI) -- Barry Bonds hit a mammoth home run, but Benito Santiago's squibber was the difference Saturday as the San Francisco Giants edged the New York Yankees, 4-3.

Playing his second game at Yankee Stadium, Bonds hit his 588th career homer, a tremendous blast that landed halfway up the upper deck in right field and gave the Giants a 3-0 lead three batters into the game.

San Francisco was then held in check until the ninth, when Santiago hit a spinner that second baseman Alfonso Soriano tried to field with his bare hand. He misplayed it, allowing the go-ahead run to score with two outs.

Mariano Rivera (1-3) had struck out Bonds for the second out of the inning, winning a battle between arguably the best closer and player of the era.

Rookie Nick Johnson accounted for New York's offense with a three-run homer in the second inning. But it was the last hit for the Yankees, who managed just two against Jason Schmidt and Robb Nen while committing three errors.

In Boston, the battle between two of the game's elite pitchers went Curt Schilling's way. He handed Pedro Martinez his first loss of the season as the Arizona Diamondbacks held on for a 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The Diamondbacks have won the first two games in the three-game interleague series that matches the defending World Series champions against the team with the best record in baseball.

Schilling (12-1) became the major league's first 12-game winner and stretched his personal winning streak to nine games. He allowed two runs and six hits over 7 2/3 innings with two walks and nine strikeouts.

Martinez (7-1) yielded three runs and seven hits over six innings with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He reached double figures in strikeouts for the 82nd time in his career but is winless in his last three starts.

Trailing, 3-1, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Mike Myers replaced Schilling and induced pinch-hitter Tony Clark to ground into a run-scoring forceout.

Byung-Hyum Kim got Shea Hillenbrand to fly to center for the final out of the inning, then left the tying run at third in the ninth by striking out Lou Merloni.

The other interleague results: Arizona 3, Boston 2; Cincinnati 4, Anaheim 3; Seattle 4, Chicago Cubs 2; Toronto 3, Colorado 1; Oakland 5, Houston 1; Tampa Bay 3, San Diego 2 in 10 innings; Los Angeles 8, Baltimore 4; Montreal 2, Chicago White Sox 1; New York Mets 8, Cleveland 6; Philadelphia 2, Detroit 1; St. Louis 11, Kansas City 3; Minnesota 5, Florida 3; Atlanta 6, Texas 3 in 10 innings.

In the National League, Pittsburgh defeated Milwaukee in 11 innings, 9-8.


Chris Smith seeks first PGA Tour win

HARRISON, N.Y., June 9 (UPI) -- Seeking his first win in 148 PGA Tour starts, Chris Smith played 30 holes in 5-under par Saturday and had a one-stroke lead through three rounds at the Buick Classic.

After rain hammered the course Thursday night and Friday morning, Smith was one of 78 players forced to return to Westchester Country Club early Saturday. He finished off a 2-under 69 before shooting a 67.

Smith was a stroke ahead of second-round leader Loren Roberts and David Gossett.


Ward wins first IRL race

FORT WORTH, Texas, June 9 (UPI) -- Jeff Ward scored the first victory of his Indy Racing League career Saturday night in one of the closest finishes in auto racing history.

The driver for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing nipped Al Unser Jr. at the start/finish line by just a few inches to win the Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The .0111-second margin of victory is the closest finish in Indy car history.

It was the only lap that Ward led as the nose of his car was less than a foot ahead of Unser's car, thrilling a crowd of 83,476.

Airton Dare was third, followed by two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Felipe Giaffone.

Tomas Scheckter dominated the race, leading 108 of the first 160 laps before he dropped out of the race with clutch failure on lap 160 following what would have been his final pit stop.

It was another heartbreaking finish for the 21-year-old rookie from Capetown, South Africa, who also led 85 laps in the Indianapolis 500 before crashing in the Turn 4 wall 27 laps from an apparent victory.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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