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Sports briefs

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, BRIAN LANDMAN, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2001


Safin is the latest seed to exit Italian Open

Up a set and a break, second-seeded Marat Safin lost his lead and his cool Wednesday, and 19-year-old Roger Federer outlasted him in a third-set tiebreaker at an Italian Open suddenly missing most of its stars.

Federer, another powerful young right-hander, outgunned the reigning U.S. Open champion 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in Rome to advance to the third round.

"I let him play in the second set, so then he thought he had the chance to win," Safin said.

Of the first six seeds, only No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten remains. Kuerten made quick work of Michael Chang, the last American left, 6-1, 6-1.

Safin, 21, blamed his loss on lack of practice since injuring his back in March.

Also Wednesday, Jacobo Diaz took down sixth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 7-5, and Harel Levy defeated Francisco Clavet 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), one day after toppling his idol, Pete Sampras, the No. 4 seed.

MORE TENNIS: Jennifer Capriati won a baseline struggle at the German Open in Berlin with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Jelena Dokic. Venus Williams beat Karina Habsudova 6-3, 6-3. Defending champion Conchita Martinez held off three match points to edge German wild-card Martina Mueller 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7). ... Defending champion Monica Seles pulled out of the Italian Open because of a foot injury.

BOXING: David Tua sued the IBF to enforce its rules prohibiting rematches in world title fights, joining Mike Tyson in the fray to get a shot at new heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman. Tua, the IBF's No. 1 contender, filed suit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, claiming a rematch between Rahman and Lennox Lewis would violate IBF rules. Rahman won the IBF and WBC titles by knocking out Lewis on April 21. The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that Rahman has agreed to give Lewis a rematch for his first defense. Tyson sued the WBC in U.S. District Court in New York on Friday to force that organization to enforce a rule prohibiting immediate rematches. ... Former champion Dave Hilton Jr., 37, was sentenced in Montreal to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting two teenage sisters. Hilton, stripped last week of the super-middleweight title he won in December, was convicted of nine counts of sex-related offenses. Lawyer Paul Skolnik is appealing. ... Paul Spadafora defended his IBF lightweight title for the fifth time, winning a unanimous decision over Joel Perez late Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

COLLEGES: One day after two Texas-El Paso football players were charged with possessing steroids, athletic department officials said the school will begin random monthly tests for the drug. Chad Kennedy, listed as the No. 1 punter, and Joseph Young, a backup defensive back, were arrested Tuesday by U.S. Customs Service officials who discovered nearly a pound of steroids in their car. The two were driving back to El Paso from Ciudad Juarez. They were being held in the El Paso County detention center, charged with possessing a controlled substance over 400 grams, a first-degree felony, sheriff's department spokesman Rick Glancey said. He said bond for each was set at $75,000. ... Utah men's basketball coach Rick Majerus, who missed most of last season because of health problems and his mother's cancer, rejoined the team for practice for a 19-day overseas trip that begins May 19. ... In baseball, Aaron Sobieraj's bases-clearing double keyed a three-run sixth inning as host Florida defeated South Florida 5-4. ... Three Florida players were selected to the All-SEC softball second team: infielders Ashley Boone and Jackie Marchetta and utility player Emily Marino. ... Two USF softball players were named first-team All-Conference USA: third baseman Ginny Georgantas and shortstop Renee Oursler. Catcher Priscilla Smith, second baseman Cindy Turek and pitcher Jessica Kowal were second-team selections. Infielder Rena Rodriguez, outfielder Shelly Riker and Turek were named to the all-freshman team. ... Trinetta Moore, a former standout center/power forward at Cowley County (Kan.) Community College, signed a women's basketball national letter with Florida State.

HORSE RACING: Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos arrived at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to begin preparing for the Preakness on May 19. ... Cat Chat scored a nose victory in Belmont Park's opening day feature, the $150,000 Grade II Nassau County Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. ... Champion standardbred pacer Cam Fella, who won 61 times and earned more than $2-million, was euthanized at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington after a progressive battle with cancer.

OBITUARY: Dan Hanley, former chief physician to the U.S. Olympic team and among the first to recognize the dangers of steroids, died Sunday at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He was 85. Hanley helped to develop protocols for drug testing in the Olympics.

SOCCER: Bayern Munich beat defending champion Real Madrid 2-1 in a Champions League semifinal second-leg match at Berlin to reach the final of Europe's premier club competition. Bayern advanced 3-1 on aggregate. It plays last year's runner-up, Valencia, on May 23. ... Ecuador national coach Hernan Gomez was shot during an argument with men who blamed him for excluding the son of exiled former President Abdala Bucaram from the under-20 team. Gomez was reported in stable condition after surgery to remove a bullet from his right thigh. He was shot Tuesday night in a hotel restaurant in the coastal city of Guayaquil. Police arrested Jose Rodriguez, director of second division Santa Rita. ... The United States, in its record ninth consecutive FIFA Under-17 World Championship, will play in a group with France, Nigeria and Japan beginning Sept. 13 in Trinidad and Tobago.

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