Sunday, January 26, 2003

Australian Open notebook


France wins first Aussie men's doubles title since '28

By Tony Harper
The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - Fabrice Santoro and Michael Llodra became the first French team since 1928 to win the Australian Open men's doubles title, defeating top-seeded Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 Saturday.

It was a rematch of last year's final, won by Knowles of the Bahamas and Nestor of Canada. Despite that victory, Knowles and Nestor have lost six of their seven Grand Slam finals.

Santoro and Llodra, who were seeded eighth, are the first Frenchmen to win at a major since

For the French combination, it was a first major win and also their first doubles success together.

The last French team to win the men's doubles at the Australian Open was Jean Borotra and Jacques Brugnon. Llodra and Santoro are only the second all-French pair to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era of tennis, which started in 1968. The other was Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte at the 1984 French Open.

"I always had a thought that I might someday win a Grand Slam title in doubles, but now that it's happened, it's just incredible," Santoro said. "We never gave up, but we were two or three points away from losing it in that last set."

Twice there was a point for a double break against the French team in the final set before they fought back.

"I thought maybe I could do something like this before the end of my career but I've done it after two years. That's unbelievable to me," Llodra said.

Knowles and Nestor, who have won 17 career titles as a team and a total of 50 between them with various partners, were bitterly disappointed.

"We have played them twice before and not seen them play like that," Nestor said.

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STICKING WITH THE FOLKS

Venus Williams has lost to younger sister Serena in the final of four straight majors, but Venus doesn't plan to change coaches - father Richard Williams and mother Oracene Price.

Both sisters are coached by their parents, and Venus said she couldn't work with anyone else.

"I couldn't deal with a coach," she said. "I like my mom and dad because they're really laid-back. Once we leave the court, we don't talk about tennis, strategy, all that.

"If I hired a coach they'd want to talk about strategy, scout other players, they want to do all that stuff I don't want to do. They wouldn't be able to tell me anything, we'd get in an argument and it wouldn't be good."

Asked what she'd do if her parents no longer wanted to coach them, Venus said: "Once mom and dad get tired, I think Serena and I will coach each other."

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TIRED CLIJSTERS

Venus Williams says Kim Clijsters' father is justified in worrying that the Belgian player is risking burnout by playing in too many tournaments.

A report in Belgium quoted Clijsters' father as saying he thought she would be retired from playing in three years because the tour is too long and tough.

Clijsters, a 20-year-old player who's ranked fourth in the world, led No. 1 Serena Williams 5-1 in the third set of their Australian Open semifinal before losing Thursday.

Venus Williams agreed that the schedule is too grueling.

"Obviously as a parent, he's quite concerned about his daughter, and with good reason," Venus said Saturday. "I also think the tour is too long. It's impossible to expect people to be able to play 11 months out of the year.

Venus said it would be a shame to see Clijsters retire early.

"When players are off the tour, it gets to be that you miss playing them, especially if they're at the top," she said.

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SHE'S A LADY

Serena Williams is no longer interested in battling the opposite sex.

Serena lost a set 6-1 against German tour pro Karsten Braasch, ranked No. 203, here in 1998.

Asked Saturday whether she would play a man for money, Serena replied, "I'm here to play women's tennis. I'm a lady. Predominantly, most of the time, I always like to play ladies."




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Mystique may give Raiders an edge
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NFL HALL OF FAME
Allen heads Hall of Fame Class of 2003
Hall voters snub Carson, Young

REDS
Reds Q&A

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UC 83, Charlotte 79
Bearcats want their Top 25 ranking back
UC-Clermont making slow but steady progress
Xavier 75, Fordham 61
No. 8 Kentucky 63, No. 15 Alabama 46
Miami 58, Ball State 56
Cold-shooting Miami women outlast chilly Buffalo
No. 1 Arizona 91, No. 6 Kansas 74
Ohio State 83, Iowa 72
Purdue 69, No. 14 Indiana 47
Top 25: Close call for Cards
How Top 25 fared, scores

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Ruffin's record FG wins Gridiron Classic
MU's Wauford offers regrets, resigns

AUSTRALIAN OPEN TENNIS
Agassi wins fourth Australian Open
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Australian Open notebook

GOLF
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HOCKEY
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NBA
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Enquirer Page Two power rankings

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Wrestling results