Agassi opens title defense with winAndre Agassi...


Agassi opens title defense with win

Andre Agassi tamed Boris Becker's serve with hard returns and began defense of his ATP Tour World Championship title last night in Frankfurt, Germany, with a 6-3, 7-5 victory.

Earlier, top-seeded Jim Courier came from behind to beat Karel Novacek, 6-7 (8-6), 7-5, 6-4. Novacek was a late replacement for the injured Stefan Edberg, the top-ranked player in the world.

Ivan Lendl, making his 12th straight appearance in the year-end event, routed Guy Forget, 6-2, 6-4 in 73 minutes.

Agassi never dropped his serve and broke Becker once in each set to post his fifth straight victory over the German.

Becker was forced to stay at the baseline much more than he usually prefers. He was pinned back by Agassi's passing shots.

* Henri Leconte, struggling to rebound from back surgery, was named along with two lesser-known players to join No. 6-ranked Forget on the French team that will face the United States in the upcoming Davis Cup final.

The composition of the squad leaves several options as the captain, Yannick Noah, and French tennis officials ponder whom to pick for the doubles team and for the No. 2 singles spot behind Forget.

Named along with Forget, 26, and Leconte, 28, were Olivier Delaitre and Arnaud Boetsch. Delaitre, ranked 42nd, has never played a Davis Cup match, while Boetsch, ranked 54th, made his debut in September in doubles against a depleted Yugoslav team.

* Brenda Schultz used an overpowering serve to upset fifth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez in the first round of the $350,000 Virginia Slims of Philadelphia. Schultz, whose serves were clocked as high as 105 mph during the match, handed Fernandez her earliest defeat of the year, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

* Germany's Steffi Graf, the world No. 2 women's tennis player, has decided to split from her Czechoslovak coach, Pavel Slozil, after five years. Graf said the two had agreed to part because of "weariness on both sides."

* Martina Navratilova sued her former attorney and his corporation, alleging that they misguided her when she signed a non-marital contract with Judy Nelson she says she didn't fully understand.

Jerry Loftin now represents Nelson, who brought a "palimony" lawsuit against the tennis celebrity in June.

Navratilova's malpractice suit claims "heedless and reckless disregard" for her rights and welfare.

"Not only was the agreement not what I was led to believe it was, but I thought Jerry Loftin and BeAnn Sisemore were my lawyers and protecting me," Navratilova said in a prepared statement.

The conduct of Loftin was made an issue during a preliminary hearing in September.

Pro basketball

Charles Barkley will wear Magic Johnson's No. 32 on his Philadelphia 76ers jersey for the rest of the season to honor the retired Los Angeles Lakers player. Barkley will switch his number from 34 to 32 as soon as a jersey is made, team officials said. The switch will happen either Friday night when Philadelphia plays at Boston, or Saturday at Detroit, team officials said.


The financially troubled Winnipeg Jets got a new lease on life with the announcement of a proposed multi-million dollar deal to keep the NHL team in the city.

Under the arrangement, which needs final approval from city council and the Manitoba government, the two levels of government would cover operating losses for the team through 1997.

The agreement was worked out between representatives of the two levels of government and the team and includes a $10-million fund which will guarantee a profit for the majority owners, headed by Winnipeg lawyer and real estate developer Barry Shenkarow.

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