Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2006

Davis hopes dim for U.S.

Russians take 2-0 lead over Americans

September 23, 2006


— In order to advance to the finals of the Davis Cup, the United States will have to mount its biggest comeback in more than 70 years.

Andy Roddick and James Blake lost their singles matches Friday at the Davis Cup, handing the U.S. team a 2-0 deficit against Russia in the semifinal.

Roddick lost to Marat Safin, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5), in the opening match, and Blake fell to Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. Russia can clinch the best-of-five series today with a victory in the doubles.

The last time the United States came back from a 2-0 Davis Cup deficit was in 1934 against Australia.

The winner will face Australia or Argentina in the final in December.

Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's top doubles team, will play for the United States. Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov are scheduled to play for Russia, though the pairings can be changed up to an hour before the match.

The loss was only the eighth in 21 Davis Cup matches for Roddick, while Safin improved to 25-14.

"One of the good things about the Davis Cup is in most other tournaments you don't get a second chance," Roddick said. "Here you do, and hopefully I'll be able to capitalize on that opportunity."

Roddick and Safin had played five times before - all on hard courts - with the American winning the last three in 2004. But this match was played on clay at the Olympic indoor stadium.

Roddick complained about the court surface - both players fixed blemishes with their feet - but didn't blame it for his loss.

"It's not the greatest, but as far as I know I was playing on the same court as he was," Roddick said.

If the U.S. team wins the doubles, Roddick is to face Youzhny on Sunday.


Hingis reaches semifinals

Calcutta, India - Top-seeded Martina Hingis defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn, 7-5, 6-2, Friday to advance to the Sunfeast Open semifinals. Hingis will play fifth-seeded Sania Mirza of India, who defeaed Aravane Rezai 6-4, 7-5.

Mauresmo stops Davenport

Beijing - Top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo defeated Lindsay Davenport, 6-4, 6-3, Friday to advance to the China Open semifinals.


Gordon ends pole drought

Dover, Del. - Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon had gone 47 races without a pole - the longest drought of his career. But Gordon took the top spot with a lap of 156.162 mph Friday at Dover International Speedway, his first pole since Aug. 24, 2005, on the road course at Sonoma.

Series leader Kevin Harvick will start 25th. Matt Kenseth enters third and will start third. Mark Martin was the only other driver in the top-10 of the points standings (sixth) who will start on the first five rows (ninth).

Kyle Busch, the last of the 10 in the standings, was all the way back in 27th place.

Joining Gordon on the front row will be Scott Riggs, who went 156.060 to take second. Kenseth and Ryan Newman, who won the pole here in June, completed the second row.


Two tied atop Texas Open

San Antonio - Eric Axley shot a 7-under 63 on Friday for a share of the second-round lead with D.A. Points in the Texas Open. Points had a 66 to match Axley at 9-under 131.

Webb shares Longs lead

Danville, Calif. - Karrie Webb moved into contention for her fourth LPGA Tour victory of the year, shooting a 2-under 70 in windy conditions Friday for a share of the second-round lead with Jeong Jang in the Longs Drugs Challenge.


Report: Girardi won't return

Philadelphia - Florida manager Joe Girardi insisted he was focused on helping the Marlins continue their surprising playoff push, despite rumors he'll be fired after the season. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, citing unidentified sources, reported Friday that Girardi's chances of returning next season are "zero" on a scale of 1 to 10.

Halladay's season finished

Toronto - Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay will miss the rest of the season because of a strained right forearm. Halladay went 16-5 with a 3.19 earned-run average in 220 innings.

Wright, Mesa suspended

New York - Colorado reliever Jose Mesa and San Francisco pitcher Jamey Wright were each suspended Friday for three games for intentionally throwing at an opposing hitter during a tense game between the teams earlier this week.

Crisp to have surgery

Toronto - Boston Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp will have season-ending surgery on his left index finger Monday. Crisp hit .264 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 105 games.

College Basketball

Iowa's Alford gets extension

Iowa City, Iowa - Iowa basketball coach Steve Alford received a one-year contract extension, athletic director Gary Barta announced. Alford is under contract with Iowa through 2011. His salary, along with other terms and conditions of the contract, will not change.

Duquesne player upgraded

Pittsburgh - Duquesne University forward Sam Ashaolu, one of five men's basketball players shot at a campus dance, was upgraded from critical to serious condition Friday.

Family members said Ashaolu, sedated for much of the week, asked about two of his brothers - the first words he is known to have spoken since being shot.

Ashaolu was the most badly injured player, taking two bullets - one of which splintered - to the head early Sunday. The bullet fragments remain because it would be much too risky to try to remove them due to the severe swelling from the wounds. Coach Ron Everhart said the 23-year-old was no longer on a ventilator.

Duke Lacrosse Case

DA: Alleged attack shorter

Durham, N.C. - Three Duke lacrosse players took five to 10 minutes to sexually assault a woman hired to perform as a stripper at a team party, and not the 30 minutes she originally described to investigators, a prosecutor said Friday.

"When something happens to you that is really awful, it can seem like it takes place longer than it actually takes," District Attorney Mike Nifong said.

Nifong's comments came as Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III denied a defense request that prosecutors provide a detailed accounting of the alleged assault, including the exact time.


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