The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 30, 1998 · Page 43
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March 30, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 43

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Monday, March 30, 1998
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" " " " " ' " " l"l I I , I I . IOC THE PALM BEACH POST MONDAY, MARCH 30, 1998 c . . On p 0 OH S il d p s counting off Chileans singing, but Rios not signing ...Ml M yajaj J I - --m0 - k " v'--s a;, i: to y Jr ,wY- x-A T. T C. ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer The crowd at the Tennis Center at Key Biscayne produced one of the louder stadium court finals in Lipton history Sunday as fans of Andre Agassi (above) and Marcelo Rios (below) dueled with nationalistic chants. Rios rewarded his flag-waving backers with a three-set victory. c - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ' A win Sunday could have ; gotten Andre Agassi back in ! the top 20. : Tough day at office ; Andre Agassi answered all ! the questions about his loss to ! Marcelo Rios, then slung his ; bag over his shoulder. Me fell into step with his ! brother and said just a few ! telling words, i "Oh It wasn't bitter. It was frus- tration. ! Since rising 119 spots in the rankings in five months, Agassi j had yearned to pronounce his i return nearly complete with a i title at the biggest non-Grand i Slam tournament of the year, i But Rios, 22, had better shots, a stronger serve and live-i lier legs. He denied Agassi his I fourth Lipton title and 37th ca-i reer title. Agassi will move from ! 31 in the world to 22. A victory ! would have returned him to the ! top 20 for the first time since ; early 1997. ' Despite the disappointment, ! Agassi wasn't disgusted with ! himself, as he was for much of ; 1997. ' "There's no question that I ,' can play better than this, which I is helping me out here a little bit," he said. "One of my worst ' nightmares is to play well and ', lose handily." Another kind of game Even though he was unhappy with the loss, Andre Agassi -' did enjoy the match for what it was much of the time two not-so-huge guys chasing balls all over the court rather than ending 80 percent of the points with an ace. "It's nice for me as a competitor to get out there and play that kind of tennis," he said. "It really forces you to think, forces you to move. I think it's good for the game." Although Rios had 12 aces, they weren't the 130-mph zingers that players like Pete Sampras and Greg Rusedski use to dominate matches. ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer a South American tennis players to reach No. 1 in the world until Marcelo Rios ; achieved that feat today. That' dates back to the beginning of the ATP rankings in 1973. ; chance Andre Agassi had to 1 break Marcelo Rios' serve in their three-set final Sunday. He won that single opportunity, but it wasn't enough to keep him ; close after the first set. ? 2 unforced errors made by ,! men's champion Marcelo :! Rios in the second set of his ;; final. oft large Chilean flags seen at one time waving inside ', stadium court Sunday. Nearly :; everyone had a small American or Chilean flag, courtesy of the tournament, stuck in their hat or their hair, but the bigger ones ; dominated the fourth level of ; the stadium. jca cars and vans used by the "u Lipton to shuttle players; guests and others. Forty-four of those were Mercedes-Benz ' vehicles, including the one I Marcelo Rios drove off in after; winning the tournament. OAn vounteers from 'uu throughout South Florida, the country and the world, who helped run the Lipton. AAA difference between 13'uuuthe paycheck for : the men's winner, which was ; $360,000, and the paycheck ; for women's winner Venus Williams, which was $235,000. court quirks STILL SNAPPING Someone wondered about Andre Agassi's reaction if he; had heard Saturday that he would lose in three sets. Agassi's quick response: "I ! would have said I didn't ask ; you." A few minutes later, someone asked if he had a : plan for the match. "No," he deadpanned. "I just went out there like a chicken without his head." ; stargazing Alex Penelas, the once- ; former mayor of Miami-Dade County, watched the men's final and appeared on-court '! afterward to help present the: trophies. Some fans booed him, although he might have" earned a bit of respect when he congratulated the winrwr in his native Spanish. Lap leaden: R Wallace pole II. T Labonte lt-t j. uiin ivj, ciiiuii iwwi, naminun iiiriaj; R Wallace 144-162; Hamilton 163, Schrader 164-' 161. Irvan 169-114, R Wallace 185-217, Elliott 218-230, R Wallace 231-237, T Labonte 231-241; R Wallace 242-343, M Waltrip 344; Jarrett 345-362; T. Labonte 363-437, Gordon 431 500 Soasen points leaders: R.Wallace 909, Mayfield 908; Gordon 168, T Labonte 151, Elliott (03, Earnhardt 102, Martin 799; J Burton 794, Jarrett ' 785, Schrader 730. Spencer 690, M Waltrip 687, Benson 683, B Labonte 680, W Burton 665. Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix Sunday's results of th race In Sao Paula, -' Brazil avor the 2.667-mile Jose Carlos Pace circuit, with drivor, team, time, winner's avoraga . speed and number of laps completed: 1 Mika Hakkinen, Mercedes, 1.37 11.747, ill 273 -mph, 72. ? David Coulthard, Mercedes . . 1:37:12 149, 7?. . 3 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari 1 31 12 297, 72. 4 Alexander Wun, Benetton ... 1 31 19 200,7..' S. H Harald Frentien Williams. 1:37:14 445, 71. . a. Giancarlo Fislchella, Benetton 1 37 19 574, 71. 7 Jacques Villeneuve, Williams . 1:37 23 653, 71. . I Eddie Irvine, Ferrari 1:37 21 184, 71. . Jean Alesl, Sauber .'.... 1:37:42 221, 71 .' 10. J Magnussen, Stewart-Ford . I 37 41 719, 70 . Did net finish 11. Johnny Herbert, Sauber 67. 12. Olivier Panis, Prost-Peugeot 63. 13. Rubens Barrlchello, Stewart-Ford 56. 14. Ricardo Rosset, Tyrrell-Ford 52. 15. Etteban Tuero, Minardi-Ford 44. 1. Pedro Oinu, Arrows 26. 17. Toranosuke Takagi, Tyrrell-Ford 19. ' II Mika Salo, Arrows IS 19. Jarno Trulll, Prost-Peugeot 17. 20 Shinji Nakano, Minardi-Ford 3. 21. Ralf Schumacher, Jorden-Mugen Honda . B. Disqualified Damon Hill, Jordan-Mugen Honda, for car weight infraction. Fastest lap Mika Hakkinen, I minute, 19 337 seconds, i 120 747 mph. 64th lap Drivers Standings Hakkinen, 20 points. Coulthard. 12. Frentten, e; Schumacher, 4, Irvine, 3. Wuri. 3, Villeneuve, Z Herbert, I, Fisichella, I. LIPTON From 1C As the car drove away, a man in the back seat rolled down a window and tossed a tennis ball to the crowd, yelling "Viva Chile." But Rios kept the other windows rolled up and his hands on the wheel, even while more than 50 people swarmed around the car, chasing it as it circled through the back parking lot to leave. A few tournament officials escorted the car through the throng of people, which included several small children and an elderly man wearing a serape. All were wearing Chile's colors and screaming "Marcelo." "I guess he didn't have time," Ilerrera said. Rios did say he was pleased with the ranking. "I think everybody is going to take it really good," he said. "I feel really proud, being Chilean, to be the only one to be No. 1 in the world." Rios, however, didn't credit any of his victory to the screaming crowd, perhaps because his most vocal fans were sitting in the highest level of the stadium, waving large flags in the breeze above the highest row of seats. Agassi said it felt "a little bit" like Davis Cup, but said he had been concentrating on trying to win his fourth Lipton title and continue his comeback. "This was certainly a tournament that took me in the right direction, but I'm starting to think about winning these now," he said. "So it's still disappointing." Rios, though, was unshakable from the start, serving 12 aces (earned mostly with placement) and averaging just nine unforced errors per set. Unlike for his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 collapse against Petr Korda in the Australian Open final, Rios wasn't nervous, slept well the night before and seemed comfortable on court. "I think I served really smart today," Rios said. "I think he had a tough time reading my serve. He thought I was going really wide (and) I would go down the middle." Agassi, who likes time to get used to a new opponent's game, struggled with reading some of Rios' shots. "I was going out there and playing him like he's 5-foot-8," Agassi said. "I thought I could back him into the paint. The bottom line is, he doesn't play his size." Agassi started slowly in the match, losing his first service game, but slowly recovered. The laps before his engine soured. He limped around, piling up points, until blowing the tire, then returned to finish 33rd and still atop the Winston Cup points list. "I can't believe we blew another motor," Wallace said. "Once we did, I was just trying to get as many points as I could. Then we lost a right front tire. Man, it all came at once." With Wallace no longer a factor and Bobby Labonte's Pontiac never in it, the race came down to Dale Jarrett, Terry Labonte and Gordon. Jarrett took the lead on Lap 345 and held on for 18 trips around the short track. But a caution on Lap 373 slowed his momentum, followed by a series of short runs that continued to bog him down. "It didn't look like it was gonna be our day," Jarrett said. "Somebody got into me at the start and took the left front tire down and that put us in the very back. "I thought once we got going we might have a chance, but our car was so much better on really long runs, and that last caution really hurt us. We'll be back." Gordon was the last to emerge from the middle of the pack. "It's frustrating at times when you're sitting back there third or fourth, and you see guys pulling Does he deserve it? Women's No. 2 Lindsay Davenport first raised the question of a No. 1 player without a Grand Slam title, but she won't be the last. Lipton champion Marcelo Rios becomes the second player in the history of the ATP rankings to rank No. 1 without a Grand Slam title. Ivan Lendl did it in 1983. He doesn't have a problem with it because he feels entitled based on the 30-tourna- Gordon, crew pull out a victory court volume increased when he earned the break back in the seventh jame of the set. For the first time, chants of "U-S-A" competed with the cries of the Chilean fans. But he lost his serve again to trail 5-6. "I felt like if I could have gotten to a tiebreaker there, just gotten through that first set in a way that was a little bit more than 7-5, 1-love, because right away he held serve there, (I'd have been better off)," Agassi said. "That was a big pivotal point of the match." 1 ill rJ- '.t 'V THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Jeff Gordon waves to the crowd after his fourth straight Food City 500 victory. away from you," Gordon said. "There were times when the car felt pretty good, too, and I just could not run them down. At times we were a rocket ship and never got a chance to show it, and times when we weren't so good and you could see it. But we had that rocket ship when we needed it the Xeiv Tift. Cruise. LA the '9S ment schedule he plays. Most players probably will agree with Agassi, though. "He deserves it now because he's No. 1," Agassi said. "He'll have to win a slam this year to be No. 1 in the players' eyes. To be No. 1 in his own eyes, he'd probably have to win a slam." Said Rios: "The tour is not only four Grand Slams. All the top players play the 30 tournaments. I've been playing all the year, been in enough tournaments." Winston Cup Food City 500 Sunday's rtsults in tht rac in Bristol, Ttnn. at Bristtl Motor Sptodway, with starting position In paronthtsos, drivor, mako at car, laps complotad, raason out it any and monoy won: 1. (2) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet. 500 190,860. 2. (J) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 500 . . . 157,960. 3. (6) Dale Jarrett, Ford. 500 S57.660. 4. 151 Jelt Burton, Ford, 500 147.670. 5. () Johnny Benson, Ford, 500 131,770. i ( 14) Ken Schroder, Chevrolet, 500 .. . 143.270. 7. 19) Mark Martin, Ford, 500 S39 070. I. (291 Ted Musgrave, Ford, 500 133,470. (32) Michael Waltrip, Ford, 500 135,320. 10. (17) Randy La Joie, Chevrolet, 499 . . 13J.165. 11 (20) Brett Bodme. Ford, 499 532 295 12 (10) Jeremy Mayfield, Ford, 499 .. . $30,940 13. (41) Dick Trickle, Ford, 49 131,715. 14. (26) Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 491 137,915. 15. (3t) Bill Elliott, Ford, H 131.515. 16 (42) Steve Gnssom. Chevrolet. 49t . 130 590. 17 (39) Ward Burton, Pontiac, 491 . 179,740 11 (40) Boobv Hamilton, Chevrolet, 491 179,540 19 (21) John Andretti, Pontiac, 497 .. . 134,030. 20 ( 20) Ernie Irvan, Pontiac, 497 131,175. 21 (301 David Green, Chevrolet, 497 . 123.415 22 ( 37) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 496 133,715. 23. (43) Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet, 49 . 111,665. 24 (12) Morgan Shepherd, Chevy, 496 . 111,590. 25 (19) stick Mast, Ford. 496 172.245 26 (15) Derrike Cope, Pontiac, 495 ... . 121,615. 27 (22) Kevin Lepage, Chevrolet, 491 . . 119.495. 21 (31) R Pressley, Ford, 4(19. hdlg . . . 111,440. 29 (16) Todd Bodme, Pontiac, 416 111,410 30 (35) Ricky Rudd. Ford, 487 134,415 31 (36) L Speed. Ford, 460, hdlg 120.315 12 (4) Mike Skinner, Chevrolet, 460 .. . 117.395. 33 (1) Rusty Wallace. Ford. 446 137.275 34 (7) B Labonte, Pontiac, 442, wreck . 132.235. 35 ( 34) Chad Little, Ford, 442, wreck . . 120.215. ( 1 1 1 Greg Sacks, Ford. 425 126.695 37 (23) Jerry Nodeau, Ford, 399 117.115 31 (33) Kyle Petty, Pontiac, 394 124, 175 39 (II) Geoff Bodine. Ford. 3i5. engine 174 165 40 ( 24) Sterling Marlin. Chevrolet, 324 . 1)7.150 41 (25) Hut Stricklin, Chevy, 204, hdlg . 117,125 42 (13) K Wallace, Ford, 155, wreck . . 117 100 43 (27) Kenny Irwin. Ford, U. wreck . . 132.077. Race statistics Winner's average speed: 82 850 mph. Time Of race: 3 hours, 13 minutes. Margin of victory: 0 583 seconds. Caution Hags: 14 for 88 laps Load changes: 19 among 10 drivers. daB2500 WAS:!3S3: KC. Cassette, Results ( Palm Beach Post Wire Services BRISTOL, Tenn. For 437 laps Sunday, Jeff Gordon chased a half dozen wannabees in pursuit of his fourth straight Food City 500 title. But over the final 63 he was the one playing catch-me-if-you-can. Auto racing And Terry Labonte couldn't. After beating teammate Labonte out of the pits by a split second, Gordon took the lead, following a caution caused by Rusty Wallace running over debris on the track and slamming into the Turn 2 wall. "We're really excited about ' pulling this one off," Gordon said of his second victory of the year. "We certainly didn't show the strength to be dominant today, but those guys in the pit kinda pulled us out one today." It was not the cleanest race on record. It was slowed by 14 cautions for 88 laps; the average speed at a snail pace 82.850 miles per hour and it lasted 3 hours, 13 minutes. This was Wallace's race to lose, and it appeared early that he would dominate. He started from the pole and led six times for 220 in Bristol most." McLarens finish 1-2 in Brazil: Mika Hakkinen dominated the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, Brazil, earning his third straight victory and showing that the McLarens will be the car to beat in the 1998 Formula One season. McLaren's 1-2 finish in the season opener at Melbourne three weeks ago, Hakkinen's teammate, David Coulthard, was the runner-up. Hakkinen, of Finland, who won the Grand Prix in Australia and the final race of the 1997 season, zoomed into the lead at the start and never relinquished it. He completed the 72-lap race around the 2.667-mile Jose Carlos Pace track in 1 hour, 37 minutes, 11.747 seconds 1.102 seconds ahead of his Scottish teammate. Defending champion Jacques Villeneuve finished seventh. Ruggiero wins Feather-lite season opener: Reggie Ruggiero won the Pepsi 200, the opening race of the 1998 NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour at Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass. Ruggiero started in 25th place and methodically worked his way to the front of the field, taking lead on Lap 108. It was Rug-giero's 38th career win. Dodge Caravan Driver's WAS." 5 Speed si a . 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