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Sampras out of Aussie

Pete Sampras' bid to tie the Grand Slam singles title record will have to wait.

Sampras pulled out of the Australian Open on Friday, citing fatigue from a relentless schedule that helped him remain No. 1 for a record sixth straight year.

"It's disappointing and was a very big decision for Pete," tournament director Paul McNamee said. "It means he misses the opportunity at the Australian Open to equal Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slam singles victories."

Sampras lost in the quarterfinals last year. The last time Sampras did not play a Grand Slam was the '92 Australian Open.

His decision opens the way for several players to take his top ranking, including Marcelo Rios, whom Sampras narrowly beat for the top ranking in 1998. The others are Patrick Rafter, Carlos Moya and Alex Corretja.

Wimbledon finalist Nathalie Tauziat also withdrew.

MORE TENNIS: France claimed the remaining place in the Hopman Cup draw by defeating Zimbabwe 2-1.

NBA: Lon Babby, the agent for Grant Hill, denied a Philadelphia Inquirer report that Hill and other players asked Isiah Thomas to step in if plans for a player vote on the owners' contract offer were not in place Monday night. Union executive director Billy Hunter planned to telephone commissioner David Stern today in hopes of arranging a bargaining session in which to present his "final" offer.

BOXING: Promoter Roger Levitt said former heavyweight champs George Foreman and Larry Holmes still may fight Jan. 23.

HOCKEY: Russia beat defending champion Finland 3-2 in overtime to advance to a semifinal against Slovakia at the World Junior Championship in Winnipeg.

HORSES: Brisco Jack won the Pelican Stakes by 1} lengths over Blues Away at Tampa Bay Downs. Man the Shipp was third.

YACHTING: Mike Golding pulled out of the Around Alone around-the-world race after hitting a sandbank. He might compete in the next two stages but can't win the race. Isabelle Autisier said her rudder was damaged and she was slowed after hitting a whale.

SPEED SKATING: Casey FitzRandolph won the 500 meters, and Christine Witty took the women's event at the U.S. Championships in Roseville, Minn.

_ Compiled from Times wires.

DEAD OF WINTER REGATTA: Carol Cronin and Andrew Pimental race their Snipe dinghy on Tampa Bay. They won two of three races but trailed Birger Jansen and Liv Ulvie. Racing continues today.

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