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THE INSIDE TRACK | NEWSWIRE

Agassi's Slump Continues with Quick Opening Loss

March 23, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

Andre Agassi can be thankful he doesn't need money, because he's not making much playing tennis lately.

The two-time defending champion of the Lipton Championships lost his opening match Saturday to Australian Scott Draper, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, at Key Biscayne, Fla. The defeat was Agassi's fifth in a row, his worst slump.

Motivation may be a problem for the 26-year-old millionaire, but he denies it.

"I'm not tired," he said. "I'm not through."

He has failed to win so much as a set in the last six weeks, and his ranking has slipped from eighth at the beginning of the year to 13th, and he'll now drop out of the top 20.

Against Draper, a 22-year-old left-hander ranked 79th, Agassi played as if he were double-parked. He lost his serve at love in the final game, and the lackluster performance prompted speculation that he didn't give his full effort in the second set.

In other men's play, Adrian Voinea of Romania lost to top-ranked Pete Sampras, 6-2, 6-0. Third-seeded Michael Chang also advanced to the third round. Seeded players eliminated included No. 6 Thomas Enqvist, No. 13 Felix Mantilla and No. 14 Tim Henman.

Boris Becker withdrew from his opening match because of a wrist injury.

In women's play, Anna Kournikova, at 15 the youngest player in the tournament, beat 12th-seeded Amanda Coetzer, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Two other seeded players were eliminated in their opening matches. No. 9 Karina Habsudova lost to Natasha Zvereva, 6-4, 6-3, and No. 15 Brenda Schultz-McCarthy was beaten by Tatiana Panova, 1-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4.

*

Sweden's Thomas Johansson outserved and beat top-seeded Michael Stich, 6-3, 6-1, in the semifinals of Russia's St. Petersburg Open.

The fifth-seeded Johansson will face seventh-seeded Renzo Furlan of Italy in the finals.

Furlan defeated Jan Kroslak of Slovakia, 6-3, 6-3.

Stich blamed his loss, at least partially, on conditions at the St. Petersburg sports complex, which he said was overcrowded.

Winter Sports

After two days of watching top American Tommy Moe dominate, youngsters Sacha Gros and Dane Spencer grabbed the spotlight in the U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf/USA at Carrabassett Valley, Maine.

Gros, 22, of Vail, Colo., a member of the U.S. ski team "B" squad, turned in a daring second run to win the giant slalom, with "C" team member Spencer, 19, of Boise, Idaho, finishing third.

Uros Pavlovcic of Slovenia, the leader after the first run, was second.

Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., who was third after the first run, skied off the course on the second.

Moe, who won the downhill and the Super G on the first two days of the championship, did not enter the giant slalom and will pass on Monday's slalom.

Finns extended their domination in this year's Nordic combined World Cup, with a one-two finish in the ski jumping portion of the World Cup finals at Strbske Pleso, Slovakia.

Jari Mantilla totaled 248 1/2 points and earned a 33-second starting lead over his teammate, Samppa Lajunen.

Motor Sports

Tony Stewart drove a G Force-Aurora to a 170.012-mph lap at Phoenix International Raceway to take the pole for today's Phoenix 200.

It was Stewart's second consecutive pole and third in seven Indy Racing League events.

Rookie Jim Guthrie ran 169.484 mph in a Dallara-Aurora and will start on Stewart's outside shoulder.

Scott Goodyear was third at 166.044 mph.

Two-time Phoenix champion Arie Luyendyk was fourth at 165.784 mph, Buzz Calkins fifth in 164.032 mph, and Robbie Buhl, Stewart's Team Menard teammate, qualified sixth at 163.964 mph.

Randy LaJoie, the defending series champion, fought off a determined bid from Jeff Burton with a spectacular last-lap move to win the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Busch Grand National Series race at Darlington, S.C.

Joe Amato and Cruz Pedregon qualified No. 1 for the second consecutive NHRA national event, setting track records in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the NHRA Slick 50 Nationals at Baytown, Texas.

Other No. 1 qualifiers at Houston Raceway Park were Warren Johnson in Pro Stock and Matt Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Miscellany

Third-ranked UCLA (24-5-1) hit five home runs en route to a 12-6 victory over seventh-ranked USC (23-9) at Dedeaux Field. . . . 1996 Olympic boxer Fernando Vargas will make his pro debut against Jose Corella on Tuesday at the Oxnard Performance Center. . . . Wayne Webb beat Steve Jaros, 268-203, in the championship match of the Pro Bowler's Assn. Peoria Open.

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