Playing a slow, deliberate, power-packed tennis game, Mary Pierce prevailed on her third match point Thursday night to hand Martina Hingis only her fifth loss of 1997, the 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 setback coming in the quarterfinals of the season-ending Chase Championships in New York.
"The year is over before I expected," Hingis said.
When the Swiss teenager sailed a backhand wide down the line to end the two-hour five-minute battle, Pierce tossed her racket into the air, then, after shaking her opponent's hand at the net, buried her face in a towel, weeping in joy.
It was the fourth time in six career meetings that the French right-hander has beaten Hingis. But it was the first time since Hingis began the remarkable run that took her to No. 1 in the world.
"It's a great feeling, but it's still not like winning a Grand Slam tournament," Pierce said. "This is very satisfying for me. I think I'll sleep well tonight."
The victory sends Pierce into Saturday's semifinal, where she will meet Nathalie Tauziat of France, a 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-4) winner over sixth-seeded Iva Majoli of Croatia.
Nancy Lopez, enjoying a rebirth in the game she once dominated, shot a three-under-par 69 to share the lead with four others after the first round of the LPGA Tour Championship in Las Vegas.
The winner of 48 tour events was tied with rookie Lisa Hackney, Donna Andrews, Jane Geddes and Juli Inkster in the season-ending event, open only to the season's top 30 money winners.
"I'd like to win a few more, but it's hard when you're playing only 15 or 16 events a year," said Lopez, who was also named the winner of the Bobby Jones Award for sportsmanship. "But this is definitely the best year I've had in the past four or five years."
Per-Ulrik Johansson shot an eight-under 64 and Joakim Haeggman had a 66 as the Swedish team combined to shoot 14 under, good for a three-stroke lead after the opening round of the World Cup of Golf at Kiawah Island, S.C.
Alexander Cejka's 63, the day's best round, carried Germany into second place.
The U.S. tandem of PGA champion Davis Love III and British Open champion Justin Leonard was in a three-way tie for sixth at seven under. Love shot a 65 and Leonard struggled to a 72.
Kevin Stadler, son of former USC golfer and current PGA player Craig Stadler, signed a letter of intent with the Trojans. Stadler, of Kent Denver High in Englewood, Colo., won the Junior World Championship in July.
Lennox Lewis' manager, Frank Maloney, and promoter Panos Eliades flew from London to New York to meet with promoter Don King in hopes of setting up an April or May heavyweight unification bout with Evander Holyfield. Lewis holds the World Boxing Council championship, Holyfield owns the World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation titles.
The London Daily Mail quoted Eliades as saying Holyfield wants $30 million.
Three-time Indy-car champion Bobby Rahal announced in Hilliard, Ohio, that his run as the oldest driver in CART will end with his retirement after the 1998 season. Rahal, 44, said he will continue to run Team Rahal, which he owns with talk-show host David Letterman.
The expansion Miami Fusion acquired Colombian midfielder Carlos Valderrama, Major League Soccer's all-time assists leader and its most recognizable player, from the Tampa Bay Mutiny for an allocated player from MLS and Miami's second overall pick in either the 1998 college or supplemental draft.
Austrian Hermann Maier swept to a decisive victory with a total time of 2 minutes 43.99 seconds in a men's World Cup Alpine skiing giant slalom in Park City, Utah. Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt was second in 2:45.79. Canadian Thomas Grandi (2:46.31) was third. The best American finisher was Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., in 11th place.
Debbie Black had 14 of Colorado's ABL-record 32 assists in leading the Xplosion over San Jose, 105-93, in front of 2,579 at Denver.
Mickey Mantle's family sued the baseball legend's former companion, Greer Johnson, for unspecified damages in New York to stop her from auctioning off "highly personal" items that belonged to Mantle, including socks, shoes and eyeglasses Saturday at Leland's auction house. The suit was filed by family estate and Mantle's widow, Merlyn, both of Dallas.