Sampras beats old rival for U.S. Open title
NEW YORK, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Pete Sampras wrote a storybook finish to the U.S. Open Sunday by winning his 14th career Grand Slam title -- a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over old rival Andre Agassi.
Sampras ended more than two years of futility by winning his first championship since setting the record for most Grand Slam triumphs at Wimbledon in 2000.
"This one might take the cake," Sampras said. "I never thought anything would surpass what happened at Wibmledon a couple of years ago, but the way I've been going this year, to kind of come through this and play the way I did today, it was awesome.
"This might be my biggest achievement so far."
For the first two sets, it appeared as if Sampras reached into his racket bag and pulled out his dominant power game from the late 1990s. The demoralizing serve, the crisp volleys and the punishing forehand were all in evidence as he had his way.
But the former No. 1 showed his true mettle as he tired in the last two sets. After dropping the third set, he fought off four break points in the fourth before breaking Agassi in the ninth game. His deep forehand return elicited a forehand into the net.
Serving for the match, Sampras hit a pair of service winners before nailing a second-serve ace at 119 miles per hour, his 33rd of the day, to bring about three championship points.
Agassi saved one with a crosscourt forehand pass, but Sampras hit a backhand volley to conclude the oldest men's final in the Open era in two hours, 54 minutes.
With his fifth U.S. Open title in hand, the 31-year-old Sampras threw his arms in the air, embraced his fellow American at the net and strode into the stands to kiss and hug his pregnant wife, actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras.
Sampras put aside the question of retirement.
"I'm going to have to weigh it up in the next couple months to see where I'm at," he said.
Thrillers mark first NFL Sunday
CLEVELAND, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- In a league where parity is king, the NFL produced one thrilling finish after another on its opening Sunday. It also produced one very large shocker.
Even though a host of games came down to a dramatic conclusion, one of them topped all the rest and earned its place among the most bizarre conclusions in pro football history.
Of the first 15 games played this year, including the Thursday night season starter in New York, 10 have been decided by six points or less. The Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints all won in overtime Sunday. Chicago enjoyed another favorable wild finish. Tennessee rallied to an exciting triumph. Carolina ended a 15-game losing streak by earning a three-point victory. And the Houston Texans won the first game they ever played, stunning the Dallas Cowboys, 19-10.
Nothing, however, could match the way things ended in Cleveland, although the finish in Tampa was not too bad, either.
When the clock reached 0:00 at Cleveland Stadium, the Browns were ahead and their rabid fans were celebrating a season-opening victory. Moments later, however, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who had won.
On what seemed certain to be the final play of the game, the Chiefs lined up in their own end of the field with just three seconds remaining.
Kansas City quarterback Trent Green went back to throw a desperation pass, but was almost sacked by linebacker Dwayne Rudd. As he was about to go down, Green flipped the ball to one of his own linemen, John Tait. Not used to such a situation, Tait did the best he could -- running around left end and dashing 36 yards.
But when Tait went out of bounds with time having run out, it was all over. Almost.
Back at the point where Rudd had almost made a sack, the Cleveland linebacker had taken off his helmet and thrown it in celebration -- thinking his team had won the game. Instead, it was judged to be an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving Kansas City an extra 15 yards and a chance at a winning field goal.
Morten Andersen promptly made it from 30 yards, giving the Chiefs a 40-39 victory.
"I'm sick," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "For us to fight as hard as we did to put ourselves in a position to win and to have something like that to happen is inexcusable. To lose our composure and get a stupid penalty like that when you've got the game won is tough."
Even if Kansas City's win was the strangest of the day, there were other amazing endings.
In Tampa, the Bucs rallied to force overtime only to have punter Tom Tupa become the victim of an overwhelming rush as he stood in his own end zone. Knowing he could not punt the ball without having it blocked, Tupa tried to throw a desperation pass. It fell into the arms of New Orleans linebacker James Allen, who was also standing in the end zone for the touchdown.
Other close contests saw Green Bay win in overtime over Atlanta on a Ryan Longwell field goal, 37-34; Chicago score with 28 seconds left on a nine-yard pass from Jim Miller to David Terrell for a 27-23 decision over the Minnesota Vikings; Chad Morton return the overtime kickoff for a touchdown to give the New York Jets a 37-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills; and Tennessee score inside the three-minute mark en route to a 27-24 victory over Philadelphia.
Tennessee's win was marred by the loss of linebacker Jevon Kearse to a broken foot.
After all that, the Houston Texans took the field for the first time and thoroughly outplayed the Cowboys. Rookie quarterback David Carr threw two touchdown passes and the Houston defense put pressure on Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter all night.
Elsewhere, Washington celebrated the arrival of Coach Steve Spurrier with a 31-23 decision over Arizona; Carolina ended its losing streak by downing Baltimore, 10-7; Miami rolled over Detroit, 49-21; Indianapolis won its first game under Coach Tony Dungy, 28-25 over Jacksonville; San Diego crushed Cincinnati, 34-6; Oakland clawed past Seattle, 31-17; and Denver outlasted St. Louis, 23-16.
Zito reaches 20 wins
MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Barry Zito tossed seven brilliant innings and became the American League's first 20-game winner Sunday night as the Oakland Athletics cruised to a 6-0 triumph over the Minnesota Twins.
The 24-year-old lefthander scattered three singles and two walks. He struck out seven and defeated the Twins for the first time in five career starts. Getting Zito on track against Minnesota could prove key because the A's and Twins might meet in the opening round of the playoffs.
Jim Mecir and Ricardo Rincon each tossed a hitless inning in relief as Oakland won for the 22nd time in 23 games and remained two ahead of second-place Anaheim in the AL West. The A's and Angels begin a four-game series Monday.
Minnesota's magic number for clinching the AL Central title remained at seven.
In St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa Bay downed Texas, 6-3, but the Rangers established a major league record for most consecutive games with at least one home run. Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez homered for the Rangers, the 26th consecutive game in which they have hit one out.
Other American League results: Toronto 9, Boston 4; New York 6, Detroit 4; Anaheim 6, Baltimore 2; Chicago 7, Cleveland 6; Seattle 16, Kansas City 9.
Atlanta clinches tie for division crown
ATLANTA, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Bartolo Colon pitched seven scoreless innings Sunday and the Montreal Expos reached 70 wins for the first time in five years with a 7-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves and Tom Glavine.
Glavine has lost four straight starts.
Despite the loss, Atlanta clinched a tie for its 11th straight division title as second-place Philadelphia lost to the New York Mets.
Under the guidance of manager Frank Robinson, Montreal (70-73) notched 70 wins for the first time since it went 78-84 in 1997. With 19 games remaining, the Expos should surpass that total.
Colon (8-3) turned the tables on the Braves, who posted a 4-0 shutout Saturday. The righthander allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five and improving to 3-0 all-time against the perennial division winners.
Colon easily outdueled Glavine (16-10), who suddenly is in a slump. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, the lefthander has lost four straight starts for the first time in his illustrious career.
Other National League results: New York 11, Philadelphia 3; Florida 11, Pittsburgh 1; Cincinnati 5, Milwaukee 4; St. Luois 3, Chicago 1; San Diego 9, Colorado 4; San Francisco 3, Arizona 1; Houston 6, Los Angeles 2.
Rollins wins Canadian Open
MARKHAM, Ontario, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- John Rollins claimed his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, winning a three-man playoff at the Bell Canadian Open following Neal Lancaster's collapse on the final hole of regulation.
After carding a bogey-free 7-under-par 65, Rollins sank a 25-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to defeat Lancaster and Justin Leonard.
Rollins owed the win to Lancaster, who took a two-stroke lead to the 72nd hole but suffered a double-bogey. He was seeking his first PGA title since 1994.
Back on the tour after a one-year Buy.com stint, Rollins played the weekend in 13-under to tie Lancaster and Leonard at 16-under 272. His best previous finish in 54 career starts had been a tie for fifth at the BellSouth Classic in April.
With the win comes a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and the $720,000 top prize, which moved the 27-year-old Rollins into the top 40 on the money list with nearly $1.15 million.
Five days shy of his 40th birthday, Lancaster began the final round with a two-shot lead and maintained it with two birdies and 15 pars over the first 17 holes. But he collapsed at the 18th, double-bogeying it in regulation and again in sudden death.
In Tulsa, Okla., Annika Sorenstam recorded her seventh win of the season and eclipsed the $2 million mark for the second straight year, pulling away for a four-stroke triumph at the Williams Championship.
Yugoslavia captures World Basketball Championship
INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Dejan Bodiroga ignited a comeback in the final moments of regulation Sunday and Yugoslavia took charge in overtime to win the World Basketball Championship for the fifth time with an 84-77 victory over Argentina.
Regulation time ended in controversy as Argentina's Hugo Sconochini was slammed to the court as he drove in for an attempt at a game-winning layup. No foul was called, however, leaving the Argentine players and coaching staff stunned.
Argentina owned a 74-66 lead with 2:31 remaining, but did not make another basket in regulation. Bodiroga scored nine points in the final 2:16, including a pair of free throws that tied the score at 75-75 with 17.4 seconds left.
Yugoslavia then forced a turnover with fullcourt pressure and Argentina's Luis Scola was called for a foul when he tried to regain the ball from Vlade Divac. The NBA veteran, with the chance to win the game at the free throw line, missed both with 5.9 seconds remaining.
Sconochini then drove the length of the floor and appeared to be fouled twice on his way to the basket. The second of the collisions sent Sconochini sprawling.
When no call was forthcoming, members of the Argentina coaching staff reached into their pockets several times in the international gesture that alleges bribery.
Perhaps upset by the frustrating finish, Argentina went cold in the extra period, missing all eight field goal attempts while Yugoslavia took charge.
Hornish edges Unser in tight finish
CHICAGO, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Defending IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. won a closing 20-lap battle with Al Unser Jr. in Sunday's Delphi Indy 300, taking the checkered flag by the closest margin in series history.
Hornish won his seventh career IRL race by .0024 seconds - no more than six inches - after running side-by-side with Unser and exchanging leads several times down the stretch.
The champion also earned extra bonus points for leading a race-high 102 of 200 laps and regained first place in the standings with 481 points heading into the season finale next Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Buddy Lazier finished third, with Penske Racing championship contender Helio Castroneves of Brazil fourth. Castroneves fell out of the top spot and 12 points behind Hornish in the standings.
Meanwhile, fellow Brazilian teammate Gil de Ferran hit the upper wall hard on lap 52 and suffered a concussion. De Ferran, who was out momentarily before track members reached his car, was airlifted to a hospital for further evaluation but gave a "thumbs up" sign before placed in the helicopter. The two-time CART champion dropped to third in the standings, 38 points behind Hornish.
Miami solidifies No. 1 rating
MIAMI, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Defending national champion Miami solidified its hold on the No. 1 spot and Florida plummeted seven places in the latest college coaches football poll released Sunday.
Miami (2-0) rolled to a 41-16 decision over the Gators Saturday in the first regular-season meeting between the national powers since 1987. That was enough for the Hurricanes to land nine more first-place votes than last week, giving them 1,520 points and 58 first-place votes overall in a nationwide poll of 61 coaches.
Florida (1-1) slipped from sixth to 13th.
While Miami won its 24th straight game, idle Texas (1-0) remained second with 1,413 points and two first-place votes. Oklahoma (2-0) beat Alabama, 37-27 on Saturday and remains third in the poll followed by Tennessee (2-0) and idle Florida State (2-0), which received one first-place vote. Tennessee defeated Middle Tennessee, 26-3 on Saturday.
Michigan (2-0), Nebraska (3-0), Ohio State (2-0), Virginia Tech (2-0) and Georgia (1-0) complete the top 10 after each moving up one spot.
Washington State (2-0) is 11th followed by Oregon (2-0), Florida, Washington (1-1), Michigan State (2-0), Southern California (1-0), Marshall (1-0), Wisconsin (3-0), Colorado (1-1) and North Carolina State (3-0).