With France desperate for victory, Cedric Pioline won two tiebreakers Friday to leave his country tied 1-1 with Australia after the opening day of the Davis Cup final at Nice, France.
Before a roaring home crowd, Pioline held off 18-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (8-6), 7-5. He needed to save a set point in the first set, then had to come back after squandering a 5-1 lead in the third.
His victory on clay was critical for France, since Mark Philippoussis of Australia had beaten Sebastien Grosjean, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, in the opening match.
The best-of-five series resumes today with Fabrice Santoro and Olivier Delaitre of France in doubles against Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. Reverse singles on Sunday will decide the title.
Pioline looked ready to take the first set after racing to a 5-1 tiebreaker lead. But Hewitt, saving three set points, evened it, 6-6. Pioline then volleyed into the net. But the Australian, serving for the set, double-faulted to make it 7-7. Hewitt hit weakly into the net and made a bad shot to give Pioline the tiebreaker.
In the second-set tiebreaker, Pioline took a 5-1 lead but Hewitt again saved three set points to make it 6-6. This time, Hewitt hit long after the changeover. Facing set point, he sent a forehand wide.
In the third set, Hewitt surged back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the score. Pioline saved four break points at 5-5 and broke serve in the final game, winning on an excellent forehand.
MaliVai Washington, a 1996 finalist at Wimbledon who reached No. 11 in the world rankings, retired from the ATP Tour. Washington ended his career because a 1997 knee injury has limited his activity the last three years. . . . U.S. Davis Cup Captain John McEnroe wants the ATP Tour to do away with doubles. McEnroe said doubles players "don't sell any tickets" and have no place in pro tennis "because no one cares." McEnroe has been critical of the state of tennis and has called for fewer tournaments and more emphasis on Davis Cup.
Ernie Els shot a bogey-free, six-under 66 and took a two-stroke lead over Colin Montgomerie halfway through the Million Dollar Golf Challenge at Sun City, South Africa.
Sergio Garcia began his round with five consecutive birdies and finished with a 67, tying for third at 138 with Lee Westwood, who shot a 70.
First-round leader Paul Lawrie had a nightmarish round. The British Open champion went from an opening 65 to a 76 for 141, eight strokes behind Els.
Paul Azinger and Se Ri Pak shot a seven-under 64 for a share of the second-round lead with John Daly and Laura Davies in the JCPenney Classic at Palm Harbor, Fla. The leaders had 13-under totals on the Westin Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead course.
Daly and Davies, who shared the lead with defending champions Steve Pate and Meg Mallon after Thursday's best-ball competition, shot a second-round 66.
The second Heisman Trophy ever to be auctioned to the public was sold in New York for $328,110, nearly $100,000 more than the price paid in February for O.J. Simpson's Heisman. Larry Kelley, the former Yale star who won the trophy in 1936, put the award up for auction after suffering a stroke. The winning bidder was not identified.
Charlie Bailey, 59, resigned as football coach at Texas El Paso, saying he is tired and wants to spend more time with his family. . . . As expected, Mick Dennehy left Division I-AA Montana to become football coach at Utah State. He replaces Dave Arslanian, who was fired Thursday. . . . Chris Hatcher, 26, a former star quarterback at Valdosta State, became the football coach at his alma mater, replacing Mike Kelly.
Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., where 12 students and a teacher were killed and two student gunmen committed suicide during a shooting massacre on April 20, will play for its first state Class 5A football championship today against Cherry Creek.
Ali Lovelace scored in the 74th minute as Notre Dame upset previously undefeated Santa Clara, 1-0, to reach the NCAA women's soccer final on Sunday at San Jose. North Carolina defeated Penn State, 2-0, in the other semifinal.
Bill Griffin, who owned 2.5% of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, agreed to transfer his share of the team to a family trust to end a fight with state liquor officials. . . . Carlton Fisk is the leading holdover on this year's ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jack Morris and Rich Gossage are among 14 players appearing for the first time. Results will be announced Jan. 11.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick received permission to stay in Canada for five years after immigration authorities tried to deport him. . . . Fernando Vargas of Oxnard will put his International Boxing Federation junior-middleweight title on the line tonight when he faces No. 1 contender Ronald "Winky" Wright in Lincoln City, Ore.
The Indy Racing League filed suit in U.S. District Court against Pep Boys after the auto-parts retailer ended its IRL sponsorship, contending the league had not kept its promise for national television exposure.
Two-time Olympic 100-meter champion Gail Devers was honored as humanitarian athlete of the year at the USA Track and Field convention in Los Angeles.