In Sports from United Press International

Feb. 7, 2003 at 11:42 PM
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Americans tied in Davis Cup

ZAGREB, Croatia, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- James Blake salvaged a point for the United States and created an opening-day deadlock Friday in the Americans' first-ever Davis Cup meeting with Croatia.

After teammate Mardy Fish lost in the event's opening match, Blake recorded a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory over 18-year-old Mario Ancic. Ivan Ljubicic defeated Fish, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

Blake and Fish are expected to take on Ljubicic and Goran Ivanisevic in Saturday's critical doubles match. The captains, however, can change their nominations up until one hour before the start of play.

Ljubicic took advantage of the fast court conditions, a packed arena and an inexperienced foe to record 30 aces and give the home team an early advantage.

Fish, 21, was playing in only his second Davis Cup and his first singles match. American Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe was forced to turn to Fish due to the absence of Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

Serena coasts into semis

PARIS, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Serena Williams cruised into the semifinals of the Open Gaz de France Friday with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Janette Husarova of Slovakia.

Williams needed just 48 minutes to stretch her WTA Tour winning streak to nine matches. After helping the United States to the Hopman Cup crown the first week in January, she is unbeaten in 13 matches overall this season.

The 21-year-old Williams captured the Australian Open last month to become only the fifth woman in tennis history to hold all four majors at the same time. It was her 20th career crown.

Williams' first career title came here in 1999. She reached the final again the next year.

On Saturday, No. 8 Eleni Daniilidou will try to stop Williams from winning her eighth title in her last 10 tournaments.

Daniilidou upset fourth seed and last year's runner-up Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia, 6-1, 6-3, to advance to her second meeting with the top-ranked American this season. She lost to Williams in straight sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The 20-year-old from Greece will be looking to reach her second final of the year. She captured her second career singles title at Auckland in the first tournament of the season.

Russia's Elena Dementieva upset second seed Daniela Hantuchova, 7-5, 6-3, to record her first win over a top-five player in more than a year. Next up for the 23-year-old Russian is No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo of France.

Mauresmo posted a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory over Spain's Magui Serna. This is the first event of the season for the 23-year-old Frenchwoman, who was sidelined for four months with a cartilage inflammation of the right knee since mid-October last year.

American records set at Millrose Games

NEW YORK, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Sprinter Gail Devers and pole vaulter Stacy Dragila set American indoor records Friday night at the 96th annual Millrose Games.

Devers set her record in the women's 60-meter hurdles as she began to pull away from the field after the second hurdle and posted a time of 7.78 seconds. The 36-year-old Devers was awarded the Fred Schmertz Outstanding Performer Trophy for her efforts.

An Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meters in the 1992 and 1996, Devers broke the record held by Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who set the American record at a meet at Fairfax, Va. in February 1989.

Dragila, who captured the first ever women's Olympic gold medal in pole vault in the Sydney, broke the American indoor record she set last Saturday in Boston with a jump of 15 feet 5 3/4 inches.

In three attempts to break the world record held by Sveltlana Feofanova of Russia, the 31-year-old Dragila came up just short.

Terrance Trammel and Chryste Gaines needed late surges to capture the men's and women's 60-meter dash.

Maurice Greene, who had been plagued by injuries but holds the world indoor and Millrose Games records, finished a disappointing third behind Trammel (6.51) and Justin Gatlin (6.54).

Gaines, the two-time defending U.S indoor 60-meter champion, bested Angela Williams at the wire with a time of 7.23 seconds.

Wild sets franchise victory record

ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Wild set a franchise record for wins Friday night, rallying from a two-goal deficit to defeat San Jose, 4-3.

The win came one day after Coach Jacques Lemaire received a contract extension.

Minnesota recorded its 27th win, one more than last season and two more than the Wild won in their inaugural campaign of 2000-01.

Special teams were the difference for Minnesota after the teams combined for four goals during a 1:57 span early in the first period.

Cliff Ronning snapped a 2-2 tie with a five-on-three goal 91 seconds into the third period and Antti Laaksonen scored on a breakaway while the Wild were shorthanded to make it 4-2 just under four minutes later.

Laaksonen's tally turned out to be the game-winner as Teemu Selanne pulled the Sharks within a goal with 6:10 left.

Patrick Marleau and Scott Hannan scored 33 seconds apart to give San Jose a 2-0 lead. Richard Park got Minnesota on the board at 5:50 and Pascal Dupuis tied it 44 seconds later.

Other NHL results: Vancouver 4, Buffalo 2; Washington 3, New York Islanders 0; Atlanta 4, New Jersey 2; Calgary 4, Edmonton 3.

Furyk leads at Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Jim Furyk shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday to open a one-shot lead over five players midway at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

A winner of seven career titles, including last year's Memorial, Furyk completed 36 holes at 7-under 137. Among those at 138 was first-round leader Kevin Sutherland, who struggled to a 72.

Paul Stankowski fired a 5-under 67 to climb from a tie for 34th into a tie for second with Sutherland, Australian Rod Pampling, Tim Herron and Tom Lehman.

Davis Love III and Mark O'Meara were tied for seventh at 139. Among those at 140 were Loren Roberts, Scott McCarron and Brad Faxon.

In Key Biscayne, Fla., Bobby Wadkins built a two-shot advantage after the opening day of the Royal Caribbean Classic.

Wadkins shot a 66 and Christy O'Connor was alone in second place in the first full-field event on the circuit this season.

While Wadkins was among the more consistent golfers on the Champions Tour last season, he did not win any of the 30 events he entered and has not won since the 2001 Lightpath Classic.

The 51-year-old Virginia native, however, had 11 top-10 finishes in 2002 and was 13th on the money list with $1.27 million.

Only Allen Doyle, who was 12th on the list, earned more money last year without a victory.

After the opening round, Fuzzy Zoeller was disqualified in an unusual ruling that involved him giving a demonstration for a local television show.

Zoeller hit some shots on the sixth fairway for the television camera, but that violated a rule that says when two or more rounds of a stroke-play tournament are to be played on consecutive days, a player cannot practice on the course between those rounds.

Flyers trade for Kapanen

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Flyers acquired right wing Sami Kapanen from the Carolina Hurricanes in a four-player deal Friday.

The Flyers obtained Kapanen along with defenseman Ryan Bast for right wing Pavel Brendl and defenseman Bruno St. Jacques.

Kapanen has scored just six goals in 43 games this season after posting five straight seasons with 20 or more goals. The poor first half by the Finnish forward is a reason the defending Eastern Conference champions are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings with just 45 points.

The Flyers, currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, have been looking for more scoring up front.

Philadelphia acquired left Eric Chouinard from the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 29. The Flyers also made a pair of deals on Wednesday, sending seldom-used defenseman Chris McAllister to the Colorado Avalanche for a sixth-round pick in the June draft and acquiring left wing Todd Warriner from the Vancouver Canucks for future considerations.

Bryden could keep Senators

TORONTO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Owner Rod Bryden's bid to retain control of the bankrupt Ottawa Senators reportedly has been accepted by the team's major creditors.

The Toronto Globe and Mail, citing sources familiar with the negotiations, reported in its Friday editions that details of the purchase agreement will be unveiled after attorneys sign final documents.

A Senators spokesman would not confirm the report.

The deal must be approved by bankruptcy courts in Canada and the United States, although most of the major creditors are expected to lend their support.

According to the newspaper, Bryden learned his bid was successful Thursday night while watching the Senators battle to a 2-2 tie with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Bryden's proposal reportedly is similar to one he submitted last year. A $234 million deal that would have erased much of the team's considerable tax debt was rejected last month by two major creditors -- FleetBoston Financial Corporation and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Since filing for bankruptcy, the team received short-term financing from the NHL that enabled it to cover operating expenses, including players' salaries.

Barry hopes to star on All-Star Saturday

ATLANTA, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Brent Barry goes for an unprecedented double when the NBA celebrates All-Star Saturday.

Barry will try to unseat defending champion Peja Stojakovic in the Shootout. A former Slam Dunk champion, Barry is trying to become the first player to win the two events that have carried All-Star Saturday since it was first held almost two decades ago.

The 6-6 veteran guard of the Seattle SuperSonics is the ninth player to enter both events, joining Michael Jordan, Ray Allen, Allan Houston, Bob Sura, Clyde Drexler, Kenny Smith, Michael Cooper and Nick Anderson.

Barry put on a show seven years ago in San Antonio, when as a second-year player with the Los Angeles Clippers he twice took off from near the foul line and dunked to stun the crowd and win the Slam Dunk Contest.

Someone will have to get hot to upend Stojakovic, the All-Star forward of the Sacramento Kings who has supplanted Milwaukee Bucks guard Ray Allen as the NBA's best shooter. He is making 40 percent of his three-pointers and has made his reputation in this event.

Two years ago, Stojakovic was edged by Allen in the final round. Last year, he needed overtime to defeat Memphis Grizzlies guard Wesley Person and became the first non-American to win the award. This year, he will be trying to become the fifth repeat winner of the event.

Hingis says her career is over

PARIS, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Former world No. 1 Martina Hingis has all but ruled out a return to competitive tennis.

Hingis, who topped the world rankings for four consecutive years, appears ready to retire due to severe ankle problems.

"A return to competition cannot be possible," the 22-year-old Hingis told the French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

Hingis said she has no intentions of competing unless she can compete at the highest level.

"It's over for me but life goes on," she said. "I am not capable anymore (of doing) what's needed to be at the top. I have been at the top for long enough to exactly know what it means, and I am incapable of it."

Hingis won three Australian Opens, one U.S. Open and a Wimbledon title between 1997 and 1999.

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