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.

* Henri Leconte, struggling to rebound from back surgery, was named along with two lesser-known players to join Forget on the French team that will face the United States in the upcoming Davis Cup final.

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.

* 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.


Navy blew a 20-point first-half lead, and lost, 92-89, to a touring squad of Russians in Annapolis. The visiting team, officially designated National Republic of Russia, Select, is one of several touring Russian teams.

The visitors comeback was led by Sergei Bespalov, who hit four three-pointers in the first seven minutes of the second half. Bespalov's barrage helped the Russians turn a 57-42 halftime deficit into a 68-63 lead with 13 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

Navy was led by center Nick Marusich, who scored 19. Freshman guard Kevin Kozak, who had 13 at the half, finished with 18. (Box score on page 6B.)


Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes' comeback continued when he stopped Jamie "Featherman" Howe in the first round in Jacksonville, Fla. The fight was stopped by referee Frank Santori at 1:57 of the first round after Holmes, 42, staggered his 27-year-old opponent.

College football

Eighth-ranked Penn State and the Fiesta Bowl have made an arrangement that will match the Nittany Lions against Tennessee in the New Year's Day game in Tempe, Ariz., a member of the bowl's selection committee said.

The arrangement was made after the Sugar Bowl agreed to take Notre Dame as the opponent for Florida, the Southeastern Conference champion, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's Penn State-Notre Dame game, the Fiesta official said.

Likewise, the Fiesta Bowl will take Penn State even if it loses to the Fighting Irish.

Tennessee's victory over Notre Dame made it clear that winner of Saturday's Florida State-Miami game would go to the Orange Bowl to play the Big Eight champion -- either Nebraska or Colorado. If Florida State loses to Miami, the Seminoles probably will land in the Cotton Bowl. There, they probably would play Texas A&M;, which is well on its way to the Southwest Conference championship and an automatic bid.

If Miami loses on Saturday, it probably will remain in Florida and meet Alabama in the Blockbuster Bowl. The Blockbuster, inaugurated last season, reportedly will raise its payout to $3 million to lure Miami.

Meanwhile, the Citrus Bowl probably will match No. 6 California against Clemson, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion. The ACC champ gets an automatic bid.

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