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Agassi Injures Back While Playing Wimbledon Tuneup

June 16, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

After his second-round exit at the French Open, Andre Agassi came to Queen's Club at London hoping for some extra match practice on grass to prepare for Wimbledon.

It didn't work out that way.

The top-seeded Agassi injured his back in a fall Thursday and was forced to withdraw from the tournament, raising concerns about his status for Wimbledon, which begins June 26.

Agassi slipped and fell while hitting a running forehand winner early in the second set of his third-round match against Italy's Gianluca Pozzi.

After playing another game, Agassi took a three-minute injury timeout as tournament trainer Doug Spreen rubbed his lower back and stretched his left leg.

Looking uncomfortable, Agassi came out for the next game. Limping visibly, he lost the game. Agassi then walked off the court and broke his racket, angrily slamming it against his right foot, drawing a code violation from the chair umpire. He extended his hand to Pozzi to forfeit the match.

Agassi had won the first set, 6-4, and was down, 3-2, in the second when he retired.

Spreen said Agassi bruised his lower back and had spasms, but should be ready for Wimbledon.

"He's going to be sore for a couple of days but there doesn't appear to be any real damage," Spreen said. "In two or three days it'll probably be feeling a lot better."

Pete Sampras, meanwhile, advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Michael Llodra of France, 6-1, 7-6 (2). Sampras gave up only three points on his serve in the opening set, while allowing Llodra only six points on his.

*

Top-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 3 Nicolas Lapentti struggled but advanced to the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open at Halle, Germany.

Kafelnikov needed two hours to post a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 6-3 victory over Oscar Burrieza, a Spanish qualifier playing only his second tour event.

Lapentti, reaching the quarterfinals of a grass-court event for the first time in his career, beat Spain's Carlos Moya, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, at the $1-million tournament.

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Second-seeded Sarah Pitkowski of France reached the quarterfinals of the Tashkent Open at Uzbekistan with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Anca Barna of Germany.

Pro Football

The NFL players' union says it will urge the league to disregard a clause in Cincinnati Bengal players' contracts that would financially punish athletes who criticize team management or coaches to the media.

Richard Berthelsen, general counsel for the players' union, said he is drafting the letter and expects to send it to NFL officials by this weekend.

Bengal President Mike Brown said he sees nothing wrong with the clause. He said a team's right to protect itself against conduct detrimental to the club is included in the standard players' contract. That section says a player "agrees to conduct himself on and off the field with appropriate recognition of the fact that the success of professional football depends largely on public respect for an approval of those associated with the game."

Naming rights for the new Denver Broncos' stadium are up for sale, much to the disappointment of some fans who prefer keeping Mile High.

The nine-member Metropolitan Football Stadium District board approved seeking formal proposals from companies willing to pay between $52 million and $89 million for the naming rights. Money from the name sale will help defray the $364.2 million cost of the stadium.

The Green Bay Packers signed nose tackle Steve Warren, their third-round draft choice who was a starter last season for Nebraska. Warren agreed to a multiyear contract. . . . Free-agent cornerback Roderick Mullen signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced. Terms were not disclosed. . . . Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher signed a contract extension through the 2003 season. . . . The Miami Dolphins released offensive lineman James Brown and wide receiver Tony Hamler.

Miscellany

A nagging ankle injury has forced U.S. gymnast Jennie Thompson to retire and give up on her dream of competing in the Olympics.

With the Olympic trials two months away, the 18-year-old Thompson made the decision with the advice of her doctors and her coach.

Huntington Beach will host the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour event this weekend with play beginning today and finishing Sunday just south of the pier.

A qualification tournament begins today at 9 a.m. The 32-team main draw of the double-elimination tournament begins Saturday at 9 a.m., and play continues Sunday at 8:30 a.m. The final is scheduled Sunday at 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Stanford University has removed all commercial ads from its football stadium and basketball arena because of concerns over the commercialization of college sports.

Washington senior tailback Maurice Shaw won't play next season because of a recurring back injury.

A state appeals court at Austin, Texas, turned down a former college football player who wanted to be classified as a school employee in order to collect disability benefits for a paralyzing injury in the 1970s.

Kent Waldrep Jr., 46, who later founded the Dallas-based National Paralysis Foundation, hoped to prove he was an employee of Texas Christian University while playing for the Horned Frogs.

Former NFL running back Dave Meggett will not face a second trial on an assault charge after after a jury in Toronto failed to reach a unanimous verdict in April.

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