The United States was without two of the best players in women’s tennis for the Fed Cup semifinal against Russia, and it showed.
The defending champion Russians completed a 4-1 victory in Moscow Sunday, and will play for the title in France on Sept. 17-18. The French reached the final for the third straight year, defeating visiting Spain 3-1 in Aix-En-Provence in a rain-shortened semifinal.
The Americans needed to scramble in their semifinal because of injuries to Australian Open champion Serena Williams and top-ranked Lindsay Davenport.
The United States has won the Fed Cup 17 times – more then any other nation – and has been runner-up nine times. Its last title, however, came in 2000.
The U.S. began the day down 2-0 in the best-of-5 competition, and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams kept her team alive by downing Elena Dementieva in reverse singles. Russia then clinched its spot in the final when Anastasia Myskina beat Jill Craybas.
In the inconsequential doubles match, Vera Douchevina and Dinara Safina defeated Williams and Corina Morariu.
“French Open champion Rafael Nadal captured his seventh title of the year, beating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the Swedish Open final in Bastad, Sweden.
“Greg Rusedski defended his title in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, beating Vince Spadea on his seventh match point at Newport, R. I.
World Series of Poker
Top players bust out at WSOP
Many of the top poker professionals were already gone when the World Series of Poker’s second round began in Las Vegas.
After three days, the field of 5,619 entrants had been winnowed to 1,884 at the Rio hotel-casino, with 10 former champions already eliminated, including 2003 champion Chris Moneymaker, Robert Varkonyi, who won in 2002, and Bobby Baldwin, the 1978 winner.
Three other previous champs, Greg Raymer (2004), Huck Seed (1996) and Dan Harrington (1995) were still alive.
Harrington, along with Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer and Sam Farha, were considered favorites to win the crown jewel of poker. All remained in the hunt.
Before play resumed, Haakon Waerstad of Oslo, Norway, was in the lead with $169,200 in chips. Sam Farha, who came in second to Moneymaker two years ago, was in second place with $156,600.
Mexico eliminates Guatemala
Jared Borgetti scored two early goals to lead Mexico to a 4-0 rout of Guatemala in the first round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Los Angeles.
Gerardo Galindo and Omar Bravo also scored as Mexico remained in contention for a quarterfinal berth from Group C by eliminating Guatemala.
Also in Los Angeles, Teafore Bennett’s goal in the 80th minute gave Jamaica a 3-3 tie with South Africa.
In the opening Group A first-round match at Miami, Wilmer Velasquez scored twice late in the second half, helping Honduras rally for a 2-1 victory over Colombia. Panama and Trinidad and Tobago played to a 2-2 tie in the other Group A match.
The top two finishers from each of the three groups, along with the two best third-place teams, qualify for the quarterfinals.
Sooners hire Stephenson
Longtime Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson was hired as the new baseball coach at Oklahoma, succeeding Larry Cochell, who resigned last season after using a racial slur during off-camera interviews.
“Michigan State receiver Agim Shabaj will enter the NFL’s supplemental draft after being declared academically ineligible for the 2005 season.
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