Originally created 04/03/00

Sampras gets first win of year

Pete Sampras earned his first tournament title of the year Sunday, thrilling a boisterous crowd by beating Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten in a dramatic four-set marathon to win the Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Sampras squandered six match points before winning 6-1, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8) in 3 hours, 18 minutes,

Looking weary, Sampras took a 6-2 lead in the final tiebreaker but then made four consecutive errors to make the score 6-6. He held another match point at 7-6 but double-faulted, and hit a backhand return long at 8-7.

Sampras went ahead again, 9-8, then came to the net behind his serve. Kuerten's forehand passing shot clipped the net cord and sailed long. Sampras raised both arms in jubilation as Kuerten angrily swiped at the ground with his racket, mangling it.

The sellout crowd of 14,145 was evenly divided in its loyalty, with many fans waving Brazilian flags and singing Kuerten's nickname, Guga. But chants of "Let's go Pete" dominated during the final tiebreaker.

"I was choking there at the end, feeling my nerves," Sampras said. "But I got through it. ... It was a hard-fought match. My conditioning wasn't there, but the crowd was tremendous. They really got behind me."

Sampras, seeded second behind Andre Agassi, earned his third title at Key Biscayne but his first since 1994. He received $410,000 and Kuerten earned $215,000.

The sixth-seeded Kuerten, 23, beat Agassi in the semifinals and was bidding for the first hardcourt title of his career.


Three North Carolina pitchers combined to allow Clemson just five hits and two runs as North Carolina defeated the top-ranked Tigers 5-2 Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Chris Elmore (3-0) gave up two runs on three hits while striking out three and walking five to take the win. Derrick DePriest took the hill in the ninth and struck out two in registering his sixth save.

Georgia Tech took advantage of three N.C. State errors to score four runs and defeat the Wolfpack 4-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference baseball.

John McHenry hit a home run and drove in all three South Carolina runs Sunday as the Gamecocks (28-4, 9-3 SEC) defeated Alabama 3-1.

Scott Barber (4-1) earned the win, pitching 8 1/3 innings before turning it over to John Wesley for the save.

Sunday's Southeastern Conference game between Tennessee and Georgia was canceled due to rain. The game will not be rescheduled.


Jeff Goff of Jackson, S.C., tied for third place in the American Junior Golf Association's Preseason Junior at Jekyll Island, Ga., on Sunday. Goff posted 72-77 -- 149 to finish four shots behind winner Bill Dukes (72-73 -- 145) of Orlando, Fla., and Steve McDonald (74-71 -- 145) of Franklin, Tenn. Dukes won on the first playoff hole.

Kevin Kisner (74-77 -- 151) of Aiken and Sam Nicholson (73-78 -- 151) tied for sixth place in the tournament held at Jekyll Island Resort's Oleander course. Mason McKnight of Augusta had a 76-78 -- 154 showing.


Denver Broncos cornerback Dale Carter will be suspended for one year for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy if he loses an appeal, The Denver Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper, citing unidentified NFL sources, said that Carter had violated the policy twice in the past three months and had two previous violations during his seven-year career.

The appeal is expected to be heard in 10 days, the newspaper said.

Carter, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent in 1999, could lose his job as well as the $3.5 million he is to be paid next season. If he tests positive again, he could face a lifetime NFL ban.


Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew underwent successful surgery Sunday in Lexington, Ky., to fuse the joint between two vertebrae in his neck. Doctors placed a titanium basket inside the vertebrae to hold them together permanently. The surgery will let the horse run safely and stay painfree.

However, he probably never will be ridden again, said Dan Rosenberg, farm manager at Three Chimneys Farm, where Seattle Slew, 26, stands at stud.


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