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Sampras a Clay Pigeon in French Open Tuneup

May 13, 1999| From Staff and Wire Reports

In a tuneup for the French Open--the only major on clay and the only major he has yet to win--Pete Sampras lost to Brazil's Fernando Meligeni, 6-3, 6-1, in the second round of the Italian Open on Wednesday night at Rome.

"I have to get back to the drawing board," said Sampras, who is preparing for the French Open, which starts May 24.

He called the match a "clay court lesson." He was "disgusted" with his game and his inability to adjust to clay.

His biggest weapon, his first serve, was off. Meligeni, ranked No. 58, passed often when Sampras ventured to the net.

He kept Sampras off balance with drop shots, deep forehands to the corners and sharp service returns at the American's feet.

Andre Agassi had a far more successful day, looking fit and comfortable at Foro Italico.

In his first tournament after a month's layoff, Agassi routed clay-court specialist Alberto Berasategui of Spain, 6-1, 6-2.

*

Top-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland breezed into the third round of the German Open with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Gala Leon Garcia of Spain, but second-seeded Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic was upset by Ruxandra Dragomir of Romania, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, and fifth-seeded Mary Pierce of France pulled out of the tournament at Berlin because of a thigh injury.

Golf

Jack Nicklaus, 59, will play in the Senior PGA Tour's Bell Atlantic Classic next week at Avondale, Pa., his first competitive round since undergoing hip surgery in January. . . . Ken Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion and a golf analyst for CBS Sports for 31 years, was introduced as captain of the U.S. team for next year's Presidents Cup.

Miscellany

The Salt Lake City scandal has shaken public confidence in Olympic sponsors and quick reforms are needed to protect the future of the games, a leading sponsor said.

David D'Alessandro, president and chief operations officer of John Hancock, said three company surveys in recent weeks found 20% of those questioned "have now lost faith in not only the Olympics but in the companies that sponsor the Olympics and their products. That's a problem."

Sports Illustrated and Valvoline Co. apologized for the placement of an advertisement opposite a photograph of the body of a victim of a recent accident at a North Carolina speedway. Three spectators were killed and eight others injured May 1 when debris from a crash during an Indy Racing League event flew over a 15-foot catch fence and into the crowd at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The photograph in the magazine's May 10 issue shows one victim, with a leg protruding from beneath a sheet, lying on the blood-covered grandstand steps.

On the opposite page, a full-page Valvoline ad shows five men working under the hood of a car, with the caption, "You're born. You die. In between you work on cars. We should all be so lucky."

Former USC quarterback Jason Thomas will transfer to Nevada Las Vegas. . . . Brian Graper, 18, died Wednesday after being pulled from the Trabuco Hills High pool during varsity swim practice. An autopsy is set for today. . . . Duncan Kennedy, the most successful singles luge racer in U.S. history, will return to international competition after an absence of two seasons due to physical problems. . . . Siena College of Loudonville, N.Y., has filed papers with the U.S. Treasury Department for a trade embargo waiver in hopes of becoming the first U.S. college baseball team to play in Cuba. . . . Larry Wright, who went from Grambling to winning an NBA championship with the Washington Bullets, was hired as Grambling's basketball coach. . . . Receiver Eric Moulds of the Buffalo Bills must serve a 30-day jail term for contempt of court for delaying child-support payments, according to records in George County Chancery Court in Mississippi. . . . University of Cincinnati football player DeMarco McCleskey was arrested on a rape charge and suspended from the team.

Judy Sweet, the first woman president of the NCAA, resigned as athletic director at UC San Diego after 24 years to return to a full-time faculty position. . . . Running back Jerome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers underwent emergency surgery at the UCLA Medical Center to remove his appendix after a workout. . . . Michael Sinclair, a second-team all-pro defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, has diabetes, but he was told it was not expected to affect his NFL career. . . . Parma won its third European soccer trophy of the decade, beating Olympique Marseille, 3-0, in the UEFA Cup final at Moscow. . . . Canada scored twice off rebounds and Ron Tugnutt made two great saves with about a minute to play, preserving a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the semifinals of the World Hockey Championships at Lillehammer, Norway. Earlier, Finland defeated defending champion Sweden, 3-1, in the other semifinal series. . . . The 1999 Badlander's Professional Bull Riding Tour kicks off May 22 at the Long Beach Arena.

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