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The Inside Track | NEWSWIRE

Agassi Is Out of Italian Open and No. 1 Ranking

May 06, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Andre Agassi's hold on No. 1 slipped away about as quickly as his lead against a 60th-ranked opponent Monday in the Italian Open tennis tournament at Rome.

In his first match since becoming the oldest man to lead the rankings, Agassi lost to David Ferrer of Spain, 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Agassi, 33, was the defending champion at the Tennis Masters Series event, so the first-round defeat will drop him below Lleyton Hewitt in the 52-week rankings.

"To get to No. 1 at my age was already an accomplishment, and it's a long year so we'll be going back and forth," Agassi said. "But the most disappointing thing is to come to Rome and lose in the first round."

Agassi cruised through the first set in 24 minutes. But Ferrer, who had lost six consecutive first-round matches, started holding serve in the second set, and Agassi's command began to slip away.

In the last set, Ferrer forced Agassi to hit into the net on break point to go up 5-4. Agassi's four unforced errors allowed Ferrer to serve out the match.

Two other seeded players lost to Spaniards at the clay-court tournament. U.S. Open semifinalist Sjeng Schalken, seeded 10th, was defeated by Alberto Martin, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian, seeded 11th, lost to Felix Mantilla, 6-3, 1-6, 6-0.

Sixth-seeded Marat Safin pulled out because of a sore wrist.

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Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian of Switzerland pulled the first upset of the German Open at Berlin, defeating 13th-seeded Ai Sugiyama of Japan, 6-1, 7-5, at an event where seven of the world's top 10 women players are participating.

Colleges

Miami Dolphin assistant Mike Shula has emerged as a top candidate to replace fired football coach Mike Price at Alabama.

The former Crimson Tide quarterback met Sunday with Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore and university President Robert Witt in Miami, according to newspaper reports.

Moore wouldn't confirm the interview with Shula, 37, who has never been a head coach.

Plans were officially revealed for the Fort Worth Bowl, which will be played Dec. 23 at Texas Christian's 46,000-seat stadium. The bowl game, approved by the NCAA last week, will match football teams from the Big 12 and Conference USA.

Marc Boehm, interim athletic director at Pittsburgh, is leaving after six years to become an associate athletic director at Nebraska under Steve Pederson, a former athletic director at Pittsburgh.

UCLA senior Onnie Willis was chosen as the Honda Award winner in women's gymnastics, given to the nation's top performer in that sport. Willis, who helped lead the Bruins to their fourth national title April 25, joins Sharon Shapiro, Jill Andrews and Mohini Bhardwaj as previous UCLA athletes who have won the award.

The contract of UCLA strength and conditioning coach Kim Sword will not be renewed. Sword was at UCLA for one year.

Auto Racing

Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau was improving, three days after he was injured in a crash at Richmond International Raceway.

Nadeau, 32, was listed in serious but stable condition at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals. He had been in critical condition.

Nadeau's car slammed into the concrete wall at the track. He suffered head, lung and rib injuries but did not fracture his skull, a team spokesman said, adding that Nadeau was awake and processing information.

Jeff Green was fired by Richard Childress Racing, two days after arguing with the car owner following a wreck with teammate Kevin Harvick in the Winston Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.

Miscellany

The Coliseum is the best site in Los Angeles for an NFL team, a stadium committee composed of L.A. City Council members said. The committee endorsed the findings of a Community Redevelopment Agency study that concluded the Coliseum was superior to other sites -- including ones adjacent to Staples Center and Union Station -- based on a number of factors such as access, parking, cost, time required for completion and public good.

The stadium committee will present its findings to the entire council next week.

The two-time defending WNBA champion Sparks waived guard Rosalind Ross, their first-round draft choice last year, and free-agent rookie forward Naomi Mobley.

A former Oklahoma standout, Ross never played for the Sparks. She had knee surgery before the start of last season.

Nykesha Sales agreed to undisclosed terms with the WNBA's Connecticut Sun. Sales made the league's top salary, $79,588, last year as a member of the Orlando Miracle, which became the Sun. She had asked the Sun to keep her at the league maximum of $85,000 this year.

The United States wrapped up its worst showing in the World Hockey Championships since 1998 by defeating Japan, 8-1, in the final of the relegation round at Helsinki, Finland.

NHL players Shane Doan and Kirk Maltby each scored twice to help Canada beat Russia, 5-2, and win its qualification group.

Slovakia tied the Czech Republic, 3-3, to top its group, thanks to a goal by Ladislav Nagy of the Phoenix Coyotes with six minutes left in the game.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic advanced to the quarterfinals.

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