Rain delays play at French Open
PARIS, June 5 (UPI) -- Heavy rain in Paris Wednesday forced the suspension of play at the French Open tennis tournament.
After the Agassi-Ferrero match, Spain's Alex Corretja and Romanian Andrei Pavel were scheduled to continue their quarterfinal, which was stopped on Tuesday night because of darkness. Corretja was leading, 7-6, 7-5, 4-5.
The 18th-seeded Corretja won both previous matches against No. 22 Pavel, and No. 2 seed Marat Safin of Russia will meet France's Sebastian Grosjean in the last men's quarterfinal.
Agassi needed more than three hours to get by French wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, on Monday to reach the quarterfinals. The last time Agassi made such a comeback was in the French final in 1999, when he beat Andrei Medvedev, 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to complete a career Grand Slam.
Agassi has won his last 10 matches, all on clay. He captured his 52nd career title at the Tennis Masters Series event in Rome on clay three weeks ago.
Ferrero advanced by winning his second five-set match of the tournament, defeating Gaston Gaudio, 6-7, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 on Monday.
Safin is bidding to reach his third straight Grand Slam tournament semifinal while Grosjean tries to become the first Frenchman to win at Roland Garros in 19 years.
Safin has a 3-2 edge in overall meetings, but Grosjean won the only matchup on clay at the 2001 World Team Cup.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov is the only Russian to win the men's French Open title in 1996. Yannick Noah was the last Frenchman to win the French Open title in 1983.
No. 20 Albert Costa of Spain 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.
The Spaniard's previous best result in a major was the French quarterfinals in 2000 and at the 1997 Australian Open. His previous lack of success at Roland Garros is surprising considering Costa has won all 11 of his titles on clay, but he has not won a tournament since 1999 at Kitzbuhel.
In the semifinals, Costa will take on either Corretja, who has reached the French final twice, or Pavel.
Nets look to dethrone Lakers
LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) -- After a difficult test in the battle for Western Conference supremacy, the Los Angeles Lakers begin the NBA Finals Wednesday night in a quest for their third straight championship when they host the upstart New Jersey Nets in Game One.
Los Angeles rallied from a 3-2 series deficit to beat the Sacramento Kings in seven games in the West finals. The Lakers posted a thrilling 112-106 overtime victory at Sacramento on Sunday to capture a Game Seven on the road for the first time in franchise history.
Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant each had double-doubles as the dynamic duo carried Los Angeles to victory. O'Neal collected 35 points and 13 rebounds and Bryant finished with 30 and 10 as the two players combined to play 103 minutes out of a possible 106. The Lakers made 27-of-33 foul shots, with O'Neal converting 11-of-15.
Los Angeles Coach Phil Jackson has won 23 straight playoff series and eight titles overall. The last series Jackson lost was with the Chicago Bulls in 1995 against Orlando, and O'Neal, in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Lakers had nine days off last year before beginning the Finals against Philadelphia and Bryant indicated that rust was a factor in their Game One loss.
Defending O'Neal will be a primary concern for New Jersey. Nets Coach Byron Scott, a former Laker, has indicated that he will use Todd MacCulloch, Aaron Williams and rookie Jason Collins against the Lakers' giant. MacCulloch came off the bench a year ago and helped defend O'Neal with Philadelphia in last season's NBA Finals.
New Jersey is hoping to continue a storybook season in which it won a franchise-record 52 games in the regular season before its run to the Finals. The Nets, who had captured just one playoff series prior to this year, won 26 games a year ago.
Jason Kidd, who finished second in the MVP voting this season, has been the catalyst for New Jersey. He became the first player since Magic Johnson to average a triple-double in a playoff series after leading the Nets past Boston in six games in the East finals.
Kidd, who has dubbed this series as "destiny vs. dynasty," recorded three triple-doubles against the Celtics. He is expected to exploit the Lakers' Derek Fisher similar to how Sacramento guard Mike Bibby was able to. Bryant said that he also expects to guard Kidd for stretches.
The Nets also have three other players who are scoring in double figures this season.
Kerry Kittles, Kenyon Martin and Keith Van Horn have all come up with huge games at various points in the postseason for New Jersey, which will try to force the tempo and get easy baskets, hoping that it will force O'Neal to have run up and down the floor.
The Nets will also have to consistently the three-point shot to have any chance, but are relishing their underdog role.
"We're not here on a paid vacation," Kidd said.
"It's Hollywood but we're not here to get deals or do any acting. We're here to play basketball."
The teams split their two regular season meetings, but both teams were missing key players.
The Lakers played without Bryant and the Nets were without Martin and MacCulloch in the first meeting while Los Angeles was without O'Neal in the game the Nets won.
U.S. pulls off World Cup shocker
SEOUL, June 5 (UPI) -- The United States was overwhelming at the start Wednesday and Ireland was brilliant at the finish, leaving those two countries with much to celebrate and giving the World Cup an unexpected look.
In a tournament already filled with surprises, the Americans delivered a huge one on another humid evening in South Korea by registering three goals during the first 36 minutes in Suwon and then hanging on for a 3-2 victory over Portugal -- the fourth-ranked team in the tournament.
"I never imagined we would lose," Portugal coach Antonio Oliveira said.
A few hours later, Germany was on the verge of becoming the first team to qualify for the second round only to see Robbie Keane score in the final moments of stoppage time in Ibaraki to earn Ireland a 1-1 tie.
The Germans, therefore, have work remaining to clinch a second-round spot while Ireland dramatically improved its chances of advancing.
In the day's opening match, Russia scored a 2-0 win over Tunisia in a game that could have been much more one-sided.
Portugal came into the World Cup as a potential threat to go all the way. It scored more goals in European qualifying than any other team and won a group that included the Netherlands and Ireland. Of the teams competing in the event, Portugal trails only France, Brazil and Argentina in the world rankings.
But 36 minutes into Wednesday's match, the United States had a 3-0 lead. Although Portugal got a goal back before the end of the first half, and although American Jeff Agoos put the ball into his own net in the second, the Americans held on to put another dent in European soccer.
France, a decided favorite to repeat as World Cup champion, failed to score a goal in the opening match of the tournament in losing to Senegal last week. Croatia, the third place team four years ago, lost to Mexico. Poland was thoroughly beaten by South Korea. Belgium had to settle for a draw with Japan. And now Portugal has fallen to the United States.
"It wasn't our first time to beat a big team," said American coach Bruce Arena. "We came here to win, not just to participate. This victory will surely grab the attention of a lot of people. However, the World Cup is not over. We have to make ourselves ready for strong opponents. Our goal is going to the second round. In order to do that, we need more points."
John O'Brien put in a rebound in just the third minute to give the United States the lead and Portugal was further shocked when a cross by Landon Donovan hit the head of Portugal's Jorge Costa and slipped past goalkeeper Victor Baia for what was registered as an own goal.
When Tony Sanneh's cross was headed in by Brian McBride, the Americans had a 3-0 lead.
Not since the first World Cup in 1930 had the United States scored three goals in a game and the Americans' win was their first over a European team in a World Cup in 52 years.
Although the United States played in the three previous World Cup tournaments, it had just one win to show for its efforts -- a victory over Colombia on home soil in 1994 that led to a second-round appearance. Four years ago, however, the Americans did not earn a point and finished last in the tournament.
With the second round now in sight, the United States will take on South Korea next Monday with the winner virtually certain to move on to the next round. Even a loss would not doom the Americans' chances since they would still have an opportunity to pick up three points against a Polish team that looked ordinary against South Korea.
The United States and Portugal were the last two teams to play a game in the World Cup while Germany and Ireland were the first to play a second game.
And that contest appeared headed Germany's way thanks to a goal by Miroslav Klose in the 19th minute. Klose scored three times in Germany's 8-0 smashing of Saudi Arabia last Saturday and he headed home a long pass from Michael Ballack to put his team in front against Ireland.
Goalkeeper Sebastian Kehl kept Germany ahead with a series of acrobatic saves in the second half, but just as the referee was beginning to look at his watch in stoppage time, Ireland came up with the tying goal.
Niall Quinn headed a ball into the box which Robbie Keane was able to control. He let loose a shot that Kehl was able to deflect, but the ball sailed up, hit the underneath side of the crossbar and bounced into the goal.
Germany is still in front of Group E with four points while Ireland has tied both Cameroon and Germany for two points. If Germany beats Cameroon in its final game and if Ireland downs Saudi Arabia in its concluding round-robin game, both of which are the expected results, both Germany and Ireland will move on to the second round.
Russia's win over Tunisia came in Kobe and featured goals by Yegor Titov and Valery Karpin during a five-minute span of the second half.
That put Russia in front of Group H after Japan and Belgium had played to a 1-1 tie Tuesday.
The Russian goal total could have been much larger, which Russian coach Oleg Romantsev pointed out.
"We cannot allow our opponents to create so many chances. And we created chances ourselves, but did not finish them off," Russia Romantsev said. "So we have work to do in both penalty areas."
Thursday's top attraction will be France's meeting with Uruguay in Pusan, where the French need a victory or face the likelihood of having to go home early.
France suffered a 1-0 loss to Senegal last week and had to play that one without superstar Zinedine Zidane, who suffered a torn thigh muscle just days before the start of the tournament. Zidane's status for Thursday's game remains in doubt and the French coach said he was leaving it up to Zidane to decide whether he feels healthy enough to play. Zidane did not work out Wednesday and was not available to say whether he thought he could play.
Senegal and Denmark, meanwhile, will play Thursday in Daegu and the winner of that one will take over the lead in Group A. A tie would benefit Senegal more than it would Denmark since the Danes still most face France and Senegal has already beaten the defending champions. Denmark defeated Uruguay in its first game, 2-1.
Also on the schedule Thursday will be the Cameroon-Saudi Arabia match in Saitama. Saudi Arabia will hope to put together a better effort than it did against Germany last Saturday, during which the Saudis surrendered eight goals and came close to being the most one-sided loser in World Cup history.
Report: Trottier to coach Rangers
NEW YORK, June 5 (UPI) -- The New York Rangers reportedly have turned to Bryan Trottier, the greatest member of the archrival New York Islanders, to be their next coach.
The New York Post reported Wednesday that he is expected to take over the reigns of the Rangers in the very near future. Sources have told the paper that Rangers General Manager Glen Sather asked and gained permission from Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix to initiate talks with Trottier before the playoffs.
According to the report, Sather and Trottier were in conference throughout the playoffs and the Avalanche assistant coach and Hall of Fame center accepted the job.
An announcement is expected to be made by the Rangers before the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Post also reported the Rangers were not the only team interested in the 45-year-old Trottier, who has one year of head coaching experience, with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League in 1997-98, before taking the assistant position at Colorado.
The paper said the Washington Capitals also were looking to fill their coaching vacancy with Trottier.
Mariners put Snelling on DL
OAKLAND, Calif., June 5 (UPI) -- The Seattle Mariners Wednesday placed outfielder Chris Snelling on the 60-day disabled list and purchased the contract of outfielder Eugene Kingsale from Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League.
Snelling has been diagnosed with a probable torn left ACL and will undergo an MRI when the team returns to Seattle on Friday. He suffered the injury trying to score after rounding third base in the second inning of Tuesday's game against the A's.
The 20-year-old Snelling is hitting .148 with one home run and three RBI in eight games with the Mariners since coming up from Double-A San Antonio on May 25.
Kingsale was hitting .261 with six homers and 26 RBI in 49 games with Tacoma. He was claimed off waivers from Baltimore last July 10, and batted .293 with three homers and 24 RBI in 51 games with Tacoma. He was recalled in late September and hit .333 (5-for-15) in 10 games.
The 25-year-old Kingsale has a .242 career average with no homers and 17 RBI in 80 games. He became the first native of Aruba to play in the major leagues when he made his debut with the Orioles in 1996.
Astros re-name stadium
HOUSTON, June 5 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros have renamed their stadium to Minute Maid Park, the club announced Wednesday.
The Astros had been calling their park Astros Field this season since the club reached an agreement in February with the bankrupt Enron Corporation, which previously had the naming rights. The Astros agreed to pay the debtors the sum of $2.1 million and regained the right to negotiate a naming rights agreement.
The team also announced that it has expanded its relationship with The Minute Maid Company to create a long-term marketing and community partnership. The partnership will give a new name to a downtown landmark and support youth sports in the Houston metro area.
"We've formed a new relationship with an old friend," said Astros owner Drayton McLane. "The partnership between Coca-Cola (Minute Maid's parent company) and Major League Baseball extends back before the century -- the 20th century. And Minute Maid has been a proud part of Houston for almost as long as the Astros."
Belmont field set; War Emblem at Post 10
ELMONT, N.Y., June 5 (UPI) -- A dozen horses were entered Wednesday for Saturday's 134th Belmont Stakes, where War Emblem, will try to win horse racing's most coveted prize, the Triple Crown, and to become just the 12th Triple Crown winner in history.
A 20-1 long shot when he won the Kentucky Derby, War Emblem drew the No. 10 post and was installed as the even-money favorite for the grueling 1 1/2-mile race at Belmont Park.
"We're happy with the draw. We wanted to be on the outside," said trainer Bob Baffert. "He's a fast horse and from there we can dictate the pace."
Proud Citizen, who finished second in the Derby and third in the Preakness, is second in the morning line at 5-1 and will break alongside War Emblem in the No. 9 post.
Peter Pan Stakes winner Sunday Break drew the No. 5 post and is third on the morning line at 6-1.
Baffert has welcomed all challengers, but a large field has been a disadvantage. In the 11 Belmont Stakes that have produced a Triple Crown winner, the average field has been a mere 5.4 horses.
The largest field for a Belmont with a Triple Crown at stake was 13 in 1971, when Canonero II's bid was spoiled by Pass Catcher.
The largest field in the Belmont for Triple Crown winners was a mere seven by Citation in 1948 and Seattle Slew in 1977.
Baffert hopes that the third time will be a charm. He won the first two legs of the Triple Crown with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998. Both colts finished second in the Belmont by less than 1 1/2 lengths combined.