Agassi, Capriati advance, Roddick out at French
PARIS, May 29 (UPI) -- Jennifer Capriati began defense of her French Open crown Wednesday with a straight-sets victory at a busy day at Roland Garros after rain suspended play on Tuesday.
After the top-seeded American's match against countrywoman Marissa Irwin was suspended with Capriati leading in the opening set, 4-2, the battle resumed Wednesday under bright, sunny skies and Capriati completed a sloppy, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
"If I really didn't want to play, I guess I had the choice to say I didn't agree with that," the three-time Grand Slam champion said. "But I was really eager to just get out there and play, just get something in. I just tried to warm up pretty well and felt pretty good. I didn't think it was going to be a problem."
Capriati claimed her first title here over Kim Clijsters in the longest third-set finish to a women's final in French Open history. She put forth another gutsy display at the Australian Open this year when she completed a record comeback for a women's major by saving four match points in her championship victory over Martina Hingis.
On clay this season, the 26-year-old Capriati has reached the semifinals at Charleston and at the German and Italian Opens.
"I think I've been getting better with each tournament," she said. "Obviously, I've been gearing up for this. I wanted to play my best tennis here. Hopefully it will come through and
I'll be able to peak here like I've been planning to. I'm not real nervous coming in here. I just know it's a tough tournament and there's a lot of potential winners. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself. I just want to do well and take it match by match."
Rain and finally darkness left several first-round matches unfinished on Tuesday, creating a very busy third day around Roland Garros.
Third-seeded Serena Williams continued her hot streak by routing Martina Sucha of Slovakia, 6-3, 6-0, in 61 minutes.
"This win was pretty much comfortable today, but there is still room for improvement," said Williams, who was runnerup in Berlin and champion at Rome during the European claycourt
The 20-year-old American made more of a splash with her new Puma outfit in the colors of the Cameroon soccer team. She wore a green top and skirt combined with high yellow soccer socks.
"I am with Puma and the national Cameroon football team is also with them," she said. "They came up with that idea to me and I found it very exciting. This is a one-time thing. It's very special. It's very innovative.
I'm a very innovative person. Puma is an innovative company. That's why we're together right now. I don't know any of the Cameroon players, but I know they are the best African football team. But I also would like to see the
American team do well."
Safin was forced to retire from his final match at the World Team Cup in Dusseldorf on Sunday because of a pinched nerve in his back.
He had been playing well before the injury, with his best result on clay this year a runnerup finish at the Tennis Masters Series event in Hamburg.
No. 4 Andre Agassi returned to the site of one of his greatest achievements, cruising past French qualifier Eric Prodon, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Agassi won the title here in 1999 to become only the fifth male to complete the career Grand Slam.
A quarterfinalist at Roland Garros last year, the 32-year-old Agassi has reached finals in four of the six tournaments he has played this season, winning three titles, including the TMS Rome three weeks ago.
Elsewhere, No. 10 Sebastien Grosjean of France, a semifinalist here last year, advanced to the second round with a 7-6 (7-0, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-3 victory over Spain's Francisco Clavet, but No. 13 Andy Roddick fell, 4-6, 7-6 (16-14), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, to Australian Wayne Arthurs in a battle of hard servers.
Nets back home to Celtics
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 29 (UPI) -- Either the New Jersey Nets or the Boston Celtics will be on the brink of elimination Wednesday night after they play Game Five of the NBA Eastern Conference finals at Continental Airlines Arena.
Boston briefly looked like it had taken control of the best-of-seven series after it earned a split of the first two games in New Jersey and set a playoff record by overcoming a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit on Saturday to emerge victorious in Game Three at home, but in
Game Four on Monday, Lucious Harris snapped a tie with two foul shots with six seconds left and Paul Pierce missed a pair moments later as the Nets bounced back with a 94-92 victory, evening the series at two games apiece and ending the Celtics' 11-game homecourt winning streak.
Boston had been 6-0 at the FleetCenter in the postseason.
Pierce drained two foul shots with 17 seconds left as Boston erased a 15-point deficit to tie the game at 92. After a timeout, the Celtics double-teamed Jason Kidd, who found an open Harris. He was fouled and made both free throws to put the Nets ahead. The Celtics then went to Pierce, who drove and was fouled by Keith Van Horn with one second left. He missed the first free throw, intentionally missed the second, and Tony Battie's follow shot rimmed out.
Kerry Kittles scored a playoff career-high 22 points and Van Horn added 21 and 10 rebounds for New Jersey, which regained homecourt advantage in the best-of-seven series.
Kidd finished just shy of a third triple-double in the series with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Pierce scored 31
points and Antoine Walker added 30, but the rest of the Celtics combined to shoot just 30 percent (12-of-40).
Pierce made 10-of-15 free throws, mirroring his problems in Game One, when he was just 7-of-13.
Avs attempt to close out Wings
DENVER, May 29 (UPI) -- The Colorado Avalanche look to advance to their third Stanley Cup Finals and second in a row Wednesday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings in Game Six of the NHL Western
Colorado took a three games to two lead on Monday with a 2-1 overtime victory as Peter Forsberg scored 6:24 into the extra session.
Three games in this best-of-seven series have been decided in overtime, with the Avalanche winning twice.
Forsberg missed last year's Stanley Cup Finals with a ruptured spleen and sat out the entire regular season, but is tied with teammate Joe Sakic for the league lead with nine goals and has a league-leading 27 points in the playoffs.
Colorado won its first Stanley Cup in 1995-96 and again last season. Since 1996, the Avalanche have a 9-5 record in Game Sixes, going
2-1 on home ice. However, they have won five of seven Games Sixes following a win in Game Five.
Colorado has won three of four playoff series against Detroit. The Avalanche are 19-9 in the postseason against the Red Wings, taking 11 of the past 14 games.
The Avalanche are seeking to become the third team since expansion to reach to the Stanley Cup Finals after winning two seven-game series. St. Louis, under current Red Wings Coach Scotty Bowman did it in 1968, and Calgary made it in 1986. Both lost to Montreal in the Finals.
Detroit is 0-4 in elimination games since beating St. Louis in Game Seven of the 1996 conference semifinals. Three of those four losses have come at the hands of Colorado.
The road team has won all six overtime games between these archrivals since their first playoff meeting in 1996.
If the Red Wings win, they will host Game Seven on Friday. If Colorado is victorious, it goes on to host play the Carolina Hurricanes in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Avs lose Hinote to broken foot
DENVER. May 29 (UPI) -- Center Dan Hinote of the Colorado Avalanche has a broken bone in his left foot and likely will miss the rest of the NHL playoffs.
Hinote sustained the injury Monday night when he blocked a shot in the third period of Game Five of the Western Conference finals against the Detroit Red Wings. He played the rest of the
game, but X-rays later revealed the break.
Colorado leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2 and will host Game Six on Wednesday night. The winner will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Finals.
If Tanguay, who is nursing an ankle injury is unable to play on Wednesday, rookie Radim Vrbata probably will play with Sakic and Hejduk.
Hinote filled in effectively last season when center Peter Forsberg was injured, scoring a goal in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Colorado won the series, four games to three.
Astros activate Miller; Mlicki to DL
HOUSTON, May 29 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros, who have lost eight of their last nine games, Wednesday activated righthander Wade Miller from the 15-day disabled list.
Miller went on the DL with a pinched nerve in his neck on April 13, one day after he was tagged for six runs and seven hits in five innings of a 7-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 25-year-old Miller will get a chance for revenge Wednesday night when the Astros conclude a three-game series with the Cardinals.
Miller (0-2) also started against St. Louis on April 7 and did not receive a decision after allowing three runs and six hits over seven innings. He made two rehab starts at Triple-A New Orleans, allowing two earned runs, walking one and striking out nine in eight innings.
Last year, Miller was 16-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 32 starts.
To make room for him on the roster, fellow righthander Dave Mlicki was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 26, with a strained intercostal muscle in his left side.
Mlicki, acquired from the Detroit Tigers for Jose Lima last June, is 3-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 10 starts. He started against the Chicago Cubs on May 25 and left after three innings because of the injury.
Kemper field will not include Woods
BETHESDA. Md., May 29 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods will be absent when the $3.6 million Kemper Open begins Thursday at the Tournament Players Club at Avenel in Bethesda, Md.
Early last week Woods said he was "50-50" about playing this event, but never made a commitment and will instead take an extended break before the U.S. Open begins June 13 in Farmingdale, N.Y.
The world's best player had a disappointing performance last week at The Memorial, where he tied for 22nd and will also skip next week's Buick Classic.
"We're disappointed," admitted Kemper General Chairman Pete Cleaves. "It's important for any tournament to have the top money winners and the marquee names."
Olazabal is enjoying his best year on the PGA Tour since 1994, when he finished seventh on the money list. He ranks fourth this year in earnings, having posted seven top-10 finishes in
DiMarco has five top-10 finishes in 14 starts to rank eighth on the money list.
Jim Furyk, who ended Woods' three-year stranglehold at The Memorial last week by rallying from a five-stroke deficit to post a two-shot victory, is also participating. He shot a final round seven-under-par 65 to record a 72-hole total of 14-under 274 after missing the cut in four of his previous six starts.
Lickliter III birdied the final hole to post a one-stroke victory over J.J. Henry for his first and only career title last year.
The par-71 TPC at Avenel is a 7,005-yard layout. First prize is $648,000.
Blatter re-elected FIFA chief
SEOUL, South Korea, May 29 (UPI) -- Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, the embattled president of FIFA, Wednesday was re-elected for a second term at the 53rd FIFA Congress, dealing a bitter blow to his critics.
The 66-year-old Blatter easily beat challenger Issa Hayatou on the first ballot, 139 votes to 56.
It marked a triumph for Blatter, who had been embroiled in a battle over his conduct in office. By returning him, the delegates strongly affirmed their belief that the charges laid against him, largely from the European bloc, were groundless.
"My dear friends, I register your deep trust in FIFA and in me," an emotional Blatter said following the results. "Your message to me is to re-install peace in this family. This family is trustful and believes in the future of football. I have to install peace into this family here, and I will do it. You have no idea what this means. To have felt this pressure these months from a directed press, saying what a bad man I am. Let us forget what has happened. I invite the international press to note that FIFA will be one family."
Blatter went on to say, in French, that Hayatou was a chivalrous opponent and a credit to the game.
Chung Jong-Moon of South Korea, who was instrumental in leading Lennart Johannson's campaign against Blatter in 1998, launched a
bitter, surprising attack on Blatter in his introduction to Wednesday's meeting.
"FIFA is now in a serious organizational crisis. FIFA is seriously divided. Our pride is damaged. We need to know the truth," Chung said to a startled, stone-faced Blatter.
"That was a very unique welcome address," Blatter said following Chung's remarks, remaining unbowed.
"After 27 years spent in FIFA I'm suddenly presumed a criminal. I am shocked, I'm disappointed but I will continue my work. My conscience is clear," he said.
Will said he would remove himself if asked and reiterated his view that FIFA's finances are a ruin.
"We are insolvent," Will told the delegates, repeating his contention that Blatter had "mortgaged FIFA's future."
Marina Kariuki of Kenya delivered perhaps the most poignant moment, appealing for help for poor federations such as his and asking for the delegates to restore "some unity to this house."
That seems unlikely in the face of such vicious European opposition.