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THE INSIDE TRACK | NEWSWIRE

Graf Continues Comeback With Quick Win in England

June 12, 1998| From Staff and Wire Reports

Playing in only her second match in four months, Steffi Graf needed only an hour to beat Kristie Boogert of the Netherlands, 6-2, 6-4, and advance to the quarterfinals of the DFS Classic on Thursday at Birmingham, England.

The top-seeded German, wearing warmup pants on a cold and overcast day, looked sharper than the previous day, when she needed three sets to beat Australian Rennae Stubbs.

Graf is playing in only her third tournament since knee surgery a year ago. She is preparing for Wimbledon, a tournament she has won seven times.

Graf chuckled when told British bookmakers had given her 4-1 odds behind Martina Hingis for the Wimbledon title.

"We'll see," she said. "I do feel confident going into the tournament, but now it's too far ahead to think about winning it."

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Pete Sampras' first warmup match for Wimbledon was anything but easy, despite a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Wayne Black at the Queen's Club in London.

The top-seeded Sampras, playing his first match since losing in the second round of the French Open, wore cycling shorts beneath his regular shorts and several times blew on his fingers to keep them warm on a windy, wet day that made for difficult conditions.

U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter, continuing a match suspended from Wednesday, lost to fellow Australian Scott Draper, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

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French Open champion Carlos Moya of Spain became the latest upset victim at the Weber Open at Halle, Germany, losing to Hendrik Dreekmann of Germany, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round.

Pro Football

Linebacker Junior Seau returned from a family vacation and reported to the San Diego Chargers' workouts, then tried to explain a two-day absence that angered team officials.

The workouts technically are voluntary, but the Chargers wanted everyone present as they try to rebound from a 4-12 season.

"Vacation was great," Seau said. "The fact is that they're disappointed that I wasn't here. I understand why. This was a voluntary-mandatory workout and I forgot the mandatory at the end of it."

Team sources claim the absence was financially motivated, a charge Seau denies.

The Seattle Seahawks released defensive back Bennie Blades, who is expected to retire after sitting out almost the entire second half of last season because of three bulging discs in his lower back. Blades, 31, played nine seasons with the Detroit Lions before signing with the Seahawks last year.

Linebacker Robert Jones, who was Jimmy Johnson's first-round draft pick with the Dallas Cowboys in 1992, will be reunited with his coach and play for the Miami Dolphins this season. Jones signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins after being cut by St. Louis because of salary-cap reasons.

College Basketball

After lengthy negotiations, Mike Jarvis, George Washington's basketball coach the last eight seasons, took over at St. John's, agreeing to a contract reportedly worth up to $800,000 a year for seven years.

Jarvis replaces Fran Fraschilla, unexpectedly fired last month after just two seasons for what the school called "philosophical differences."

Track and Field

Any notions that two-time Olympic champion Roger Kingdom's career was at an end were dispelled at Holmdel, N.J., when the 35-year-old ran his fastest race of the year, winning the 110-meter hurdles in 13.38 seconds.

"Nobody believes in me anymore," the 1984 and 1988 gold medalist said.

Michael Johnson and Gwen Torrence, slowed by injuries, will not compete in next week's U.S. championships, their manager said.

Johnson, the 200-meter world-record holder and double Olympic champion, has withdrawn from the June 19-21 meet in New Orleans for fitness reasons. Torrence, the 1996 Olympic women's 100-meter bronze medalist and 1992 Olympic 200-meter champion, is recovering from a leg injury.

World 200-meter champion Ato Boldon of Trinidad said he will not compete in this summer's Commonwealth Games and IAAF World Cup because of a dispute with his national federation.

Names in the News

Former Formula One driving champion Nigel Mansell suffered a whiplash injury and a bruised jaw in a crash during qualifying for this weekend's British Touring Car Championship at Donington, England, but returned to testing during the afternoon. . . . Northwestern fullback Matt Hartl, 22, will sit out the 1998 season because of a recurrence of Hodgkin's disease.

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