Becker Loses, Won’t Play at Wimbledon

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Boris Becker dismissed thoughts of playing Wimbledon on Tuesday after losing in the first round of the Gerry Weber Open at Halle, Germany, to an opponent ranked 101st in the world.

“A Wimbledon start would have made sense with a good performance in Halle, but not with a first-round loss,” Becker said. “This way, the pressure of Wimbledon would be too much for me.”

Becker fought off five match points before double-faulting and losing to German compatriot Hendrik Dreekmann, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (11-9), at the $875,000 grass-court tennis tuneup.

Becker, who has won Wimbledon three times and is one of the tournament’s most popular players, is easing into retirement at 30 and has played only six tournaments this year.


He has changed his mind several times after announcing last year that his 14th Wimbledon was his last.

Spain’s Carlos Moya, in his first match since winning the French Open, defeated France’s Guillaume Raoux, 6-4, 6-4. But the man he defeated in the Paris final, countryman Alex Corretja, was ousted by France’s Nicolas Escude, 6-2, 7-5.

Also, Richard Fromberg of Australia upset seventh-seeded Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, and Tommy Haas of Germany beat Belgium’s Filip Dewulf, 6-3, 6-4.

With hundreds of fans turned away for his match, Becker was far from the form that once made him a No. 1 player and a Wimbledon finalist seven times.


But Becker, now ranked 58th, offered his cheering fans plenty of entertainment. He blew a 4-0 lead in the final-set tiebreaker, then warded off one match point after another before finally losing.


Mark Philippoussis of Australia, once considered a potential Wimbledon champion, was ousted in the opening round of the Queen’s Club tournament at London and said he might not play England’s Grand Slam tournament.

Philippoussis, the defending champion in the grass-court Wimbledon warmup, lost to Jordi Burillo of Spain, 7-6 (11-9), 7-5.


In another upset, American Todd Martin lost, 6-4, 6-2, to Swiss qualifier Ivo Heuberger.

Australian Jason Stoltenberg, seeded No. 16, lost to Belgian qualifier Laurence Tieleman, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

Goran Ivanisevic, the 10th-seeded player and runner-up in 1997, overcame American David Wheaton, 6-1, 7-6 (10-8). Other seeded players to advance were No. 12 Todd Woodbridge, No. 13 Brett Steven and No. 14 Byron Black.



Rain disrupted the DFS Classic at Birmingham, England, for the second consecutive day, but Steffi Graf did get in some practice for her latest comeback.

Graf, who has played in only two tournaments since knee surgery last year, wants to get in as much match play as possible before Wimbledon.

The top-seeded Graf is to play either qualifier Rennae Stubbs of Australia or Shi-Ting Wang of Taiwan in a second-round match today.

Laura Golarsa of Italy won the first completed match of the grass-court tournament, defeating Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 7-5.



Russian teenager Marat Safin, who reached the French Open quarterfinals as a qualifier, was granted a wild-card berth for Wimbledon.

Safin, 18, who defeated Andre Agassi and defending champion Gustavo Kuerten in Paris, was the only non-British player to receive one of the five wild cards.

The other four went to Britain’s Chris Wilkinson, Andrew Richardson, Mark Petchey and Danny Sapsford.


Three more wild cards are available for the men’s singles.

Five of the eight wild cards for the women’s singles were also awarded, all to Britons--Samantha Smith, Karen Cross, Lorna Woodroffe, Julie Pullin and Jo Ward.


Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1984 U.S. Open champion, and Jeff Sluman, the 1988 PGA champion, were among the final 25 qualifiers in Tuesday’s sectional qualifying for this year’s Open.


Zoeller and Sluman were among 19 players to advance from a sectional in Summit, N.J. Three others moved on from both St. Louis and Atlanta.

College Basketball

George Washington Coach Mike Jarvis and St. John’s have been in negotiations for several days about his becoming coach of the Red Storm.

Jarvis, 253-141 in 13 seasons as a Division I coach, is said to be seeking a seven-year deal at $800,000 a year, one that would make him one of the Big East’s highest-paid coaches.



Top-seeded Ardy Wiranata of Colorado Springs, Colo., defeated Bob Milroy of Canada to advance to the second round of the U.S. Badminton Open Championships at the Orange County Badminton Club in Orange.

Wiranata, who swept Milroy, 15-0, 15-0, will play Thanis Maneerod of Irvine. Maneerod won by default against Frimpong Kwaju of Ghana, whose team was unable to get a visa in time for Tuesday’s competition.

Cindy Shi of Colorado Springs won in women’s singles. She defeated Adrienn of Peru, 11-1, 11-1.


Competition continues today at 3 p.m. with the round of 16.


The San Francisco 49ers are suing to stop a petition drive designed to overturn taxpayer funding of a new stadium and mall project.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court, says the petition includes false and misleading statements. The petition seeks to put an initiative on the November ballot to overturn the municipal bond funding approved by voters in 1997.


Names in the News

Long Beach Ice Dog center Doug Ats was awarded the International Hockey League’s Ironman Award, given by league officials to the most outstanding player who appears in every one of his team’s regular-season games.