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Graf Challenged but Maintains Winning Streak

March 23, 1995|From Staff and Wire Reports

Steffi Graf, who has yet to lose a set this year, barely kept her streak intact against Natasha Zvereva in Wednesday's quarterfinals of the Lipton Championships at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Graf won, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), after trailing, 5-4, in the tiebreaker and will play Jana Novotna in today's semifinals.

"It was a difficult match," said Graf, 12-0 in 1995. "She doesn't really give you a rhythm."

Andre Agassi will meet Sweden's Magnus Larsson in one men's semifinal Friday. Agassi, seeded second, beat No. 8 Wayne Ferreira, 6-2, 6-4. Larsson swept Jaime Yzaga, 6-0, 6-3.

Also advancing in women's play were fifth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini and No. 7 Kimiko Date, who will meet in the other semifinal.

Date won, 6-1, 7-5, over unseeded Californian Marianne Werdel Witmeyer, who eliminated top-ranked Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

The third-seeded Novotna edged Anke Huber, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. Sabatini was a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Australian Rachel McQuillan.

Football

Sterling Sharpe, star receiver waived by the Green Bay Packers after spinal-fusion neck surgery, said he will return to the NFL in 1996 and could even play in '95 if he wanted.

Sharpe spoke at a news conference in Atlanta, where, along with defensive end Richard Dent, released by the San Francisco 49ers, he discussed injury grievances filed against the Packers and 49ers through the NFL Players Assn.

"I could clearly play this year," Sharpe said. "But to be on the safe side, every specialist we talked to said you really want to give a fusion at least a year."

A Waukegan, Ill., jury has awarded former Chicago Bear wide receiver Ron Morris, 30, $5.3 million for a career-ending injury suffered in 1991 when Dr. Christ Pavlatos gouged the cartilage in his left knee during surgery for a torn tendon. Pavlatos was found negligent.

Max Blecher, the Rams' lawyer in the fight to complete their move to St. Louis, said that multiple lawsuits probably will be filed in a week.

The Rams signed free agents Alexander Wright and Turhon O'Bannon. Wright, a wide receiver, averaged 16.5 yards a catch for the Raiders last season. O'Bannon, a defensive back who was in the Rams' training camp last year, is a half-brother of UCLA basketball players Ed and Charles O'Bannon.

The San Diego Chargers agreed to a two-year contract with free agent safety Shaun Gayle, formerly of the Bears. Terms were not disclosed.

The NFL's salary cap for 1995 has been readjusted to $37.1 million a team, which will allow each team to spend $2.5 million more on players than last season.

Charley Pell, 54, who attempted suicide in 1994 when he was unable to find a job after NCAA violations cost him his post at the University of Florida, was hired to coach at the soon-to-open Lake Region High at Eagle Lake, Fla.

Boxing

Mike Tyson's spiritual adviser, Muhammad Siddeeq, said the former heavyweight champion plans to hold an outdoor Islamic prayer service, including Muhammad Ali, just after Tyson's release from prison Saturday. However, the Rev. Charles Williams, president of the Indiana Black Expo, and several of Tyson's boxing associates said Tyson will be driven to Indianapolis International Airport, with no stops, and fly home to Ohio. . . . Amid conflicting reports, International Boxing Federation super-middleweight champion Roy Jones seems set to defend his title June 24 in Atlantic City, N.J., against Vinny Pazienza.

Miscellany

Arnold Palmer, who twice was captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, will lead the American squad in the 1996 Presidents Cup. . . . Chinese Coach Ma Junren admitted in Shanghai that he sometimes beat members of his elite running squad. The squad fell apart last year when world 10,000-meter champion and record holder Wang Junxia led a walkout after allegations that Ma had stolen team winnings and abused his athletes. . . . Bear linebacker Chris Zorich and gymnast Dominique Dawes were named winners of the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards in Tulsa, Okla., for making personal contributions to the community. . . . Rich Devos' Reichel/Pugh 74 Windquest led a fleet of 15 boats to the finish of Newport Harbor Yacht Club's race from Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas, crossing about 1 1/2 hours ahead of Neil Barth's Whitbread 60 America's Challenge at dawn Wednesday. . . . The unbeaten USC men's and women's teams head the field for the the West Coast Collegiate Regional polo tournament today through Sunday at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

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