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Graf Finishes Tuneup With Strasbourg Title

May 25, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

One week after suffering the worst defeat of her tennis career, Steffi Graf apparently has regained her forehand stroke in time for the French Open.

Graf beat 15-year-old Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, 6-2, 7-5, Saturday in the final of the Strasbourg Open in France for her first victory of the year.

Lucic, who won her first official pro tournament, the Bol Open in Croatia, last month, had won her first 15 matches on the WTA tour and made Graf struggle to earn her 103rd victory.

"I started to make a few mistakes on my forehand . . .," Graf said. "When she led 4-2, I started playing well again."

Graf is 12-2 this year after being out of tournament play from February until last week. She suffered the worst loss of her career to Amanda Coetzer, 6-0, 6-1, in the German Open.

Graf is bidding for her sixth French Open championship, and third in a row, in the tournament beginning Monday.

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Bothered by an injured right foot, top-seeded Monica Seles was no match for No. 2 Jana Novotna, who successfully defended her Madrid Open clay court title with a 7-5, 6-1 victory in Spain.

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Marcelo Filippini of Uruguay defeated Patrick Rafter of Australia, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, to win the Raifeissen Grand Prix clay court championship and earn his fifth ATP title, at St. Poelten, Austria. . . . Spain defeated the Netherlands, 2-1, in the World Team Cup at Duesseldorf, Germany, setting up a championship match against Australia.

Auto Racing

Joe Nemechek, who has struggled with the death of his brother and lackluster performances by his Winston Cup team this season, cruised to an impressive victory in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 Busch Grand National race at Charlotte Motor Speedway at Concord, N.C.

Nemechek, who drove a Chevrolet, led for 134 of the 200 laps, including the final 69 to beat Kevin Lepage by 1.64 seconds, or about 150 yards on the 1 1/2-mile speedway.

World champion Tommi Makkinen of Finland won his second consecutive Tour of Argentina rally at Cordoba, Argentina.

Makkinen, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV, was timed in 4 hours 25 minutes 38 seconds in the 261-mile third and final leg, with an average speed of 59.1 mph.

Rookie Tony Raines registered his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Odessa, Mo., winning the $316,384 Western Auto Parts America 200.

Rookie Lee Bentham of Toronto earned his first PPG-Firestone Indy Lights Championship victory at Madison, Ill., when he won a rain-shortened race at the new Gateway International Raceway. Bentham took the lead on lap 24 of the race that was cut to 56 laps. He went to the front when early leader Mark Hotchkis of Pasadena was slowed by a transmission problem. . . . Dean Hubbs died of injuries suffered in a crash when his car was sideswiped during a IMCA modified feature race at Brewerton Speedway in New York. He was 59. . . . Williams-Renault teammates Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen recovered from poor showings in their previous race to gain the front row in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona. Villeneuve was timed in 1:16.525 over the 2.937-mile Catalunya Circuit. Frentzen's best was 1:16.791. . . . Derek Hill, the 22-year-old son of 1961 world champion Phil Hill, won the pole position for Monday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Lime Rock, Conn. Hill averaged 102.288 mph on the 1.54-mile road course.

Soccer

Chiquinho Conde scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway in the 87th minute to give the New England Revolution (6-4) a 2-1 Major League Soccer victory over the Colorado Rapids (4-7) in front of 9,452 at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Paul Bravo scored for the Rapids.

Track and Field

UCLA senior Amy Acuff became the first female athlete in Pacific 10 Conference history to win an event four year in a row when she won the women's high jump with a leap of 6 foot 2 3/4 inches at the Pac-10 Track and Field Championships at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

In other finals, UCLA junior Josh Johnson, the son of Rafer Johnson, won the men's javelin at 230-1; USC sophomore Pamela Simpson won the women's long jump at 20-11 1/4; UCLA junior Suzy Powell won the javelin at 179-2; UCLA junior Nada Kawar won the shot put at 55-1 1/2. The meet continues today.

Miscellany

Lawsuits by disappointed Olympic vendors could cost the city of Atlanta more than the $2.5 million it made renting them space to sell their wares, according to Robb Pitts, Atlanta city councilman. "In the worst-case scenario, we are approaching $50 million in liability with respect to the various suits that have been filed," Pitts said.

Unbeaten Princeton defeated Duke, 10-9, to reach Monday's final in NCAA lacrosse championships, where it will play Maryland an 18-17 winner over Syracuse.

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