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Becker Defeats Sampras, but It's Not a Knockout

November 22, 1996|From Staff and Wire Reports

Tennis staged its version of a heavyweight bout as Boris Becker upset Pete Sampras on Thursday for a spot in the semifinals of the ATP Tour World Championship in Hanover, Germany.

Becker defeated Sampras, 7-6 (12-10), 7-6 (7-4), for the second time within a month in Germany.

"I had goose bumps, I was about to take off and fly into nirvana," Becker said. "I was so emotional, my heart was pumping so hard."

The two players were greeted with the theme from "Rocky" as they came down the ramp onto the court.

"Walking out was like two heavyweights going at it," Sampras said. "The electricity and the atmosphere was awesome."

Becker, the defending champion, is 2-0 in this $3.3-million season-ending event, which features the top eight ranked players. Two advance to the semifinals from each of the two round-robin groups.

Sampras, like Becker a two-time ATP champion, dropped to 1-1.

"He is still the current and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world," Becker said.

Sampras will need to beat Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov today to advance. Kafelnikov, the French Open champion, scored a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Swede Thomas Enqvist, a late replacement for Andre Agassi, who withdrew because of illness after his loss to Sampras on Wednesday.


Rookie Mayumi Hirase of Japan shot a five-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead in the inaugural $700,000 LPGA Tour Championship at the Desert Inn golf course in Las Vegas.

In at 68 on a course softened by rain showers throughout the day were Jane Geddes, Michelle McGann, Penny Hammel and Juli Inkster.

Another shot back were Karrie Webb and Laura Davies, both with a chance to become the first to win $1 million in one season on the LPGA Tour if either wins the $150,000 first prize.

Tom Lehman and Steve Jones of the United States trailed Ernie Els and Wayne Westner of South Africa by 10 strokes after the first round of the World Cup of Golf in Cape Town, South Africa. The United States is trying to win a record-tying fifth consecutive World Cup title.

Playing in his first overseas tournament since turning pro three months ago, Tiger Woods struggled to a windblown 79 in the first round of the Australian Open. Tournament leader Greg Norman shot a 67 before heading off to play a round with President Clinton.

It was Woods' worst score in 32 rounds since he turned professional on Aug. 27. His previous high was a 78 at the Tour Championship hours after his father was hospitalized because of heart problems.


Roy Jones Jr., will fight Mike McCallum for the vacant World Boxing Council light-heavyweight title tonight in Tampa, Fla. Marco Antonio Barrera of Mexico will defend his World Boxing Organization junior-featherweight belt against Junior Jones of New York on the first half of the doubleheader.


Phil Hankinson, a 6-foot-8 reserve forward on the Boston Celtics' 1973-74 NBA championship team, was found dead in his car from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot in Kentucky on Tuesday. He was 45.

Elmo Langley, a pace car driver and an official for NASCAR, died of an apparent heart attack while completing a test drive for an exhibition race in Suzuka, Japan. He was 68.

Gayle Florence, the wife of longtime Times sportswriter Mal Florence, died Thursday in Tarzana after suffering a heart attack. She was 68.

Names in the News

Sabina Panzanini of Italy solidified her reputation as one of the best female giant slalom skiers with a World Cup victory in Park City, Utah. Panzanini completed her two runs in 2 minutes, 38.50 seconds, for the second win of her career. . . . Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen of the United States won the pairs short program at the Nations Cup skating championships in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Russia's Alexei Urmanov, the 1994 Olympic champion, won the men's short program and is in first place heading into the free skate competition.

Prison guard Rodney Anderson was found guilty of plotting with former Ram cornerback Darryl Henley to assassinate a federal judge and a former cheerleader by a Los Angeles federal jury and faces life in prison. Henley faces a 41-year sentence after pleading guilty to the murder-for-hire plot and his role in a drug ring.


The Texas Pan American athletics program, currently on NCAA probation, is in trouble again with the NCAA. The NCAA refused to certify the university's athletics program, saying it has failed to operate in accordance with association standards. Texas Pan American is the first Division I school not to receive certification since the NCAA began the examination process in 1993.

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