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In Davis Cup Preview, Sampras Defeats Sweden's Bjorkman

September 27, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

With the upcoming Davis Cup final on his mind, Pete Sampras beat Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman on Friday to reach the semifinals of the $6-million Grand Slam Cup at Munich.

Sampras and his U.S. teammates will face Sweden, whose top player is Bjorkman, Nov. 28-30 for tennis' most prestigious team trophy.

Sampras used his booming serve to win, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, but the match was decided when Bjorkman double-faulted at key points in both sets.

"I'm going to play him again in six weeks in a big match, so I was definitely motivated," Sampras said. "It's been on my mind since the day I saw the draw for the tournament."

He next faces Britain's Greg Rusedski, who rallied to beat Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1, while tying his record for the fastest serve ever.

Rusedski hit a 143-mph serve in the second set that matched his record-breaking serve at the U.S. Open two weeks ago.

U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter of Australia will meet Czech Petr Korda in the other semifinal.

First prize in the tournament is $1.5 million.

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Vince Spadea of the United States gained his first semifinal of the season, beating fellow American Justin Gimelstob, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), at the $400,000 Toulouse Open in France. Spadea will meet third-seeded Mark Philippoussis, the defending champion, in one semifinal. Germans Alex Radulescu and Nicolas Kiefer play in the other semifinal.

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Defending champion Anke Huber, battling stomach pain, upset French Open champion Iva Majoli, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, to reach the semifinals of the Leipzig Open in Germany. She will play Jana Novotna, and Martina Hingis will play South Africa's Amanda Coetzer.

Pro Basketball

New York Knick point guard Charlie Ward has a slight stress fracture of the lower right leg that will keep him from participating in full workouts when training camp begins next week. Ward, a three-year veteran who won the Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for Florida State in 1993, averaged 5.2 points, 4.1 assists and 22.3 minutes last season as the backup to Chris Childs.

Carl Thomas, a free-agent guard who played 19 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, signed with the Golden State Warriors. . . . The Toronto Raptors re-signed power forward Reggie Slater to a two-year contract.

Well-traveled free agent Vincent Askew has signed a contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. . . . The Atlanta Hawks signed five free agents to contracts, including returning starter Tyrone Corbin. The others signed were former Georgia Tech star Drew Barry, 7-foot David Crouse, a rookie from USC; Anthony Miller and Donald Whiteside.

Horse Racing

Editor's Note, winner of the 1996 Belmont Stakes, has been retired and will begin a career at stud next year at owner W.T. Young's Overbrook Farm outside Lexington, Ky. The horse retired with earnings of $1,601,394.00.

Free House, who finished in the top three in all three Triple Crown races this year, was made the 9-5 favorite for Sunday's $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs at Bossier City, La.

Deputy Commander, who ran second to Free House in the Swaps before winning the Travers at Saratoga, was made the second choice at 5-2 in the field of six 3-year-old colts.

College Basketball

The University of Texas Board of Regents has approved a proposal to change the name of Texas El Paso's Special Events Center to the Don Haskins Center in honor of the Hall of Fame basketball coach. In doing so, the regents broke with a policy of not naming a system facility after a living employee.

Michael Charles, a standout basketball player at Alabama Birmingham in the mid-1980s, died in an early morning shooting in Birmingham.

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