The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 50
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March 29, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 50

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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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- - - " 1 i ii mi m mT It c THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 11C t fl01 P : m n p counting off As he climbs rankings again, Agassi 'kind of a genius' the tournament WHAT: The world's largest non-Grand Slam tennis tournament, with $4.6 million in prize money. WHERE: Tennis Center at Cran-don Park, Key Biscayne (14,000 seats) WHEN: Today. DIRECTIONS: Take 1-95 south to Key Biscayne exit. Head east and over Rickenbacker Causeway. Tennis center is on right. TICKETS: $20-$40. Call 305-442-3367. TV: 2 p.m., WPEC-12, WFOR-4 (tape delay). 1 f ' 'V0 K .i. . . Upton match played in the best 3-of-5 sets format, which is used at all four Grand Slam tournaments. The men's final, after 10 days of best 2-of-3 sets, switches to best 3-of-5. to years since an American woman won the singles title here. Venus Williams is the first since Chris Evert, also a South Floridian, won Lipton in 1986. X total previous doubles titles won by Rick Leach before Saturday. His titles matched his age until he and partner Ellis Ferreira won the doubles final. It is Leach's second Lipton doubles title. cq approximate number of kids waiting more than an hour for Venus Williams to sign autographs after her win. She didn't sign any. 14 000 seats in the stadium court ' arena. Presumably, all 14,000 will be filled today because tickets to the match sold out Friday. 9?cnrm amount of money 4. V . u results f -4 5 Rios Agassi Tale of the tape By Elizabeth Clarice Palm Beach Post Staff Writer KEY BISCAYNE For pride alone, Alex Corretja has to say Andre Agassi has a good chance to win the Lipton. Corretja, the eighth seed who got knocked around the court by Agassi in their Friday night semifinal, wasn't willing to go so far as to predict Agassi would beat third seed Marcelo Rios in today's men's singles final. But he is impressed with the way Agassi has been able to resurrect his career to such heights so many times. "He's kind of a genius in tennis," Corretja said. "Mentally, he's really good, and his ground strokes are really, really great." Agassi, like Rios, will not blow anyone away with his serve or end points quickly with a few well-placed volleys. Both players' strengths lie in their precise ground strokes and ability to move. "You can run (for) five hours on the court and (Agassi) has the power of the match the whole time," Corretja said. "It's a little bit (like) Marcelo, when he gets the rhythm, it's really difficult to just catch him and try to move him." Rios, 22, and Agassi, 27, have never played each other. They are tied with the best match record in the game this year, 24-3. Agassi is seeking his fourth Lipton championship, which also would bump his ranking into the top 20. A victory for Rios would be the biggest tide of his career, both in the size of the paycheck and the meaning of the win. Rios will move to No. 1 in the world if he beats Agassi. He moves to No. 2 if he loses. Agassi, then, bears the job of keeping Pete Sampras at No. 1, although he said that isn't a primary concern. "I don't think, to be quite honest, Pete is too concerned about it," Agassi said. "It's a long year, and Pete can score on any surface pretty well." Besides, as Agassi has said before, his concern is reaching No. 1 himself. He expects a baseline battle today. "When I'm playing baseliners (and) I'm playing well, every point is about establishing yourself," he said. "Then I'm pretty confident." ANDRE AGASSI MARCELO RIOS Age 27 22 Hometown Las Vegas Santiago, Chile Year turned pro 1986 1994 Current ranking 3 1 3 Expected ranking, if win 17 1 Expected ranking, if lose 22 2 1998 record 24-3 24-3 Career hard court record 318-83 75-34 Career titles 36 7 Grand Slam titles 3 0 Plays right-handed left-handed Aces this tournament 24 18 Venus Williams won with the tournament title. It is the biggest payday of her career. Kournikova earned $120,000. Venus wasn't sure what she'd do with the money. "I'm going to put it in the bank. Maybe buy my dogs a collar." Men Doubles Finals Ellis FerreiraRick Leach (7) def. Alex O'BrienJonatan Stark (8) 6-2, 6-4. Women Singles Finals : Venus Williams (11) def. Anna Kournikova (23) 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Doubles Semifinals Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Natasha Zvereva (2) def. Julie Halard-DecugisRachel McQuillan 6-4, 6-2. today's matches Day session begins at 12 p.m. Stadium day sessions - Andre Agassi (29) vs. Marcelo Rios (3). . Martina HingisJana Novotna (1) vs. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Natasha Zvereva (2). stargazing , Early Open era champion Rod Laver and Pancho Segura, a pre-Open player, watched the women's final Saturday. court quirks who won the 1992 Lipton doubles title with Ken Flach, has had a recurrence of the brain tumor that was removed in 1996. He is at home in Zionsville, Ind., but after the cancer returned, the doctors' prognosis has not been promising. Witsken, 34, and his wife, Lisa, have four young children. Women's doubles today: Top seeds Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna face Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Natasha Zvereva in the women's doubles final, which will be played immediately following the men's singles final today. Sanchez Vicario and Zvereva are the defending champions. New doubles champions: Ellis Fer-reira and Rick Leach defeated Alex O'Brien and Jonathan Stark 6-2, 6-4 to become the first new doubles champions since Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde won their first Lipton title in 1995. Ferreira, no relation to Wayne Ferreira, and Leach are playing together for the first time this year. This is their first title together. Woodbridge and Woodforde withdrew from the first round here after playing one set. Woodbridge had the flu and also pulled out of the singles draw. Former winner III: Todd Witsken, Kournikova's plan works for a set HAIRY QUESTIONS Pete Sampras, clean-cut and never seen with an earring or even a controversial shirt, might be able to question Marcelo Rios' unusual long-on-top, short underneath haircut and the way Rios wears the longer top part in a ponytail to play. But something seems amiss when Andre Agassi questions any man's hair. "He missed a spot there with his haircut," Agassi joked Friday, indicating the long part on top. Not what you'd expect from the former long hair who shocked the tennis world with his clothing colors and earring as -a young player more than a decade ago. TIGER, SCHMIGER ; Venus Williams isn't motivated-by statements that she is the Tiger Woods of tennis, but she . ' thinks it's valid for comparison. "I think it gives a good analogy for people who might not follow tennis to feel or to understand j what I am for tennis." As a matter; of fact, why not call him the Venus' Williams of golf? COOL GIFT Somebody rewarded the fans in the cheap seats Saturday. Fans, sitting high above stadium court in' the fourth section received what looked like tennis ball necklaces.. Turns out the balls, which were adorned with a Nike swoosh and hung around people necks on a cord, opened to become binoculars. 'When I win, everyone wins. Serena wins, my mom wins. It's just good for all of us.' VENUS WILLIAMS jp m vm M 9 jmmmmmmmmmmmnwn' mmmmmmmmwmmmmmmmmmMmmmmmmmmwmmmm ''v'V in the third but Williams served out the match at love. "At that point, I was kind of tired and ready for the match to be over," she said. "But there was no way I was going to lose serve that game." Kournikova didn't blame her loss on exhaustion but wasn't resigned to the fact that Williams is unbeatable. "I think that it was a very long . week for me," she said. "I've played a very tough job compared to Venus." Kournikova, ranked 25th coming in, beat up-and-comer Mirjana Lucie in the first round, followed by fifth seed Monica Seles, Con-chita Martinez (9), Lindsay Davenport (2) and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (8). Williams, seeded and ranked 11th, played no one ranked higher than 29th until she met top seed and year-long world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the semifinals. Listening to her father and learning to adjust to other players' games over the past year helped Williams win, she thinks. "It was something my dad had told me before, and today also. If I was having trouble, then to do this, to do that," she said. "That's exactly what I did. If he hadn't told me that or if I hadn't listened, things might not have gone the way they had today." LIPTON From 1C to hug her mom and sisters. Her father, Richard Williams, had moved to the front row carrying his erasable marker board for the final point. He jumped up and down in circles with the board over his head when she won. The board carried different messages throughout the match, including "About now, Venus needs Lipton tea" when she was down early. "When I win, everyone wins," Venus Williams said. "Serena wins, my mom wins. It's just good for all of us." Even though Kournikova lost, she was laughing and happy afterward. She made history by becoming the first player to beat four top 10 players in this tournament, by far her best career performance, and will move to a career-high ranking of 16 in the world Monday. "I think I just got a little bit tired physically," she said. "But it's good. It shows me that she didn't beat me. I lost." Williams didn't disagree, necessarily. She said Kournikova won the first set with a good plan and aggressive play. Williams was down a set just 24 minutes into the match after managing just three winners in eight games, an uncommon ratio for her. updates "Since I'm so tall, (and) I had the wrap on my knee, maybe she thought she should slice, keep it in play, let me rush," Williams said. "That was a good plan." Kournikova had made just nine unforced errors, plus nine winners, in that set. But she couldn't continue controlling the points. She finished with 53 unforced errors, compared with Williams' 38, but did make double Williams' winners with 20. "She started to play great in the second and third sets," Kournikova said. "All shots, she ran them down." Williams broke Kournikova back early in the second set, then won her serve. Kournikova took a bathroom break down 3-2 but lost her serve again when she returned. She got one break back at 5-3 but lost the next six games in a row. She eked one game out at 5-0 511: Call 511 and enter , category 3861 for 511 ! frequent updates on "j The Lipton tennis tournament. 50$ for up to 5 min. See page 2A for more details. INTERNET: For coverage of The Lipton on line, go to Palm Beach . Interactive: www.GoPBI.comSportsTown y ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer Venus Williams hit corner-to-corner to win a prolonged rally early in the second set that seemed to change the rhythm. Lewis struggles early, stops Briggs in fifth round Boxing The Associated Press ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Lennox Lewis had a mixed reaction to his vanquished opponent Saturday night, first praising Shannon Briggs, then dismissing him. Of course, Lewis has Evander I lolyfield on his mind instead of the likes of Briggs. "Shannon Briggs came to fight," said Lewis, and the crowd cheered the challenger mostly for his effort Saturday night in marked contrast to his victory over George Foreman in which Briggs was booed. Lewis, however, had too much power and retained the WBC heavyweight championship by knocking Briggs down three times and stopping him at 1:45 of the fifth round. "He was braver than I expected," Lewis said. "He did a lot of talking during the week and had to back it up. That's why he got off the canvas three times." But Lewis also claimed Briggs had no business being in the ring with him. over Foreman on Nov. 22, hurt Lewis with a big left hook and a flurry of punches in the last 30 seconds of the first round. Briggs hurt Lewis again with a leaping left hook and a couple more head punches in the second round. From then on, it was all Lewis until the fight was stopped. Lewis was ahead on all three judges' cards after four rounds. Briggs blamed the media reaction to his controversial win over Foreman as adversely affecting him during the beginning of his training for the title bid. After Briggs was knocked down in the fifth round for the third time, he took some more punishment from Lewis and then fell face down after missing with a wild left hook. Referee Frank Cappuccino immediately signaled the fight was over. "He was overcome by exhaustion," Cappuccino said. "When a fighter is hke that he's vulnerable to getting hurt. This way, he can come back to fight another day." "He realized his jab was not as good. "He is basically a front-runner. I just wanted to take his head off." Holyfield's trainer thinks his man would do that to Lewis. Asked what would happen should Lewis fight WBA-IBF champion Holyfield, Don Turner said of Lewis, "He gets knocked out, probably." Briggs had the 9,173 fans at Convention Hall roaring in the first two rounds, when he hurt Lewis especially in the first round, when he sent the champion reeling across the ring with a barrage of punches. Lewis' chin almost betrayed him in the first two rounds, but then his power came to his rescue in the fourth and fifth rounds. Lewis was a 12-1 favorite, but certainly didn't look like one in the first two rounds. Briggs, who won a controversial decision V""- , THt ASSOCIATED PSS It's all over for Shannon Bnggs (left) as Lennox Lewis (right) successfully defends his WBC heavyweight title Saturday night. Shannon really couldn t take my pace alter t . . j i l . . i : i t, f : : j ' i sianea nuune mm wiui my iau, icis jju.

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