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Back strain sidelines Davenport in Rome

Published Sep. 27, 2005

An awkward move during practice, a sudden wrenching pain in the lower back, and No.

1-ranked Lindsay Davenport joined the growing list of top women tennis players with injuries heading into the French Open.

The 23-year-old American pulled out of the Italian Open in Rome before the third round Thursday after what tournament officials called an acute lower back strain suffered while hitting a forehand during a morning warmup.

"My back just locked up on me. And I went to see the trainer and it's just, you know, really, really sore right now," said Davenport, grimacing and walking stiffly a few hours later.

Davenport said she hoped to be okay in time for the clay-court Grand Slam event that opens in Paris in just more than a week, but she said it was too soon to be certain.

Martina Hingis and Conchita Martinez skipped the Italian Open after hurting themselves in the German Open. Anna Kournikova tore an ankle ligament in that tournament and skipped Rome as well.

Serena Williams went on the sick list a month ago with a bad knee.

The tournament also lost its defending champion when third-seeded Venus Williams was beaten by 17-year-old Jelena Dokic 6-1, 6-2.

It was Williams' fourth match since a six-month layoff from tendinitis in her wrists. Consoled by her mother, Williams could be seen crying briefly after the loss.

Third-round play saw second-seeded Nathalie Tauziat and fifth-seeded Monica Seles advance to the quarterfinals of the clay-court tournament. Tauziat squeaked by Magdalena Grzybowska 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4), and Seles beat Anne Gaelle Sidot 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Fourth-seeded Mary Pierce fell to No. 12 Amelie Mauresmo 6-3, 6-4, and seventh-seeded Julie Halard Decugis lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to Fabiola Zuluaga.

MORE TENNIS: Magnus Norman, the leader in the Champions Race, stayed on course for consecutive titles when he beat Younes El Aynaoui 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the German Open in Hamburg. By winning the Italian Open last week, Norman jumped over Andre Agassi in the rankings that will produce the new No. 1 at the end of the season. Gustavo Kuerten routed Wayne Ferreira 6-1, 6-2. Mariano Zabaleta, last year's runner-up, beat eighth-seeded Tim Henman, and fourth-seeded Cedric Pioline rallied to oust Andrei Medvedev.

BOXING: The British government's decision to grant Mike Tyson an entry visa for his June 24 contest with Lou Savarese in Glasgow, Scotland, has sparked a wave of protests. Under British immigration laws, the government can prevent anyone who has served a jail sentence of at least a year from entering the country. In a poll of 1,000 Scots by the Daily Record of Glasgow, almost two-thirds said they did not want Tyson in their country. "We are very disappointed by (Home Secretary) Jack Straw's decision and very concerned that the feelings of Scottish people have been ignored," Oona Hay of the Rape Crisis Center in Glasgow said. "Our main concern is the message that is being sent to women and how seriously the government really takes violence against women." Tyson was allowed to fight in the United Kingdom in January after intervention from Straw, who said he was considering local business and the people who had bought tickets. Lennox Lewis will make the next defense of his IBC and WBC heavyweight titles against Frans Botha on July 15 in London. Two senators, including former presidential candidate John McCain, R-Ariz., and a congressman accused the WBC of "misconduct" and "intimidation" over the sanctioning body's order to replace a judge before a title bout involving light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. In an open letter to WBC president Jose Sulaiman, the three said the WBC "forced the Indiana Boxing Commission to replace one judge with a judge sponsored by the WBC" before the Jones-Richard Hall bout in Indianapolis on Saturday.

OLYMPICS: If Nicole Reinhart gets a chance, she'll trade a shot to win $250,000 for a trip to the 2000 Games. BMC Software Inc. is offering the bonus to any cyclist who wins the four races it's sponsoring this year. Reinhart won the first two and is a favorite to make the U.S. team. But the final race, which covers about 40 miles, is scheduled for Sept. 17 in Boston, too close to her potential race in Sydney nine days later. "I'm going to petition the company to move it up," Reinhart said. BMC Software says it won't change the date. Former champion Dieter Baumann's slim hopes of competing in Sydney dimmed when he lost his appeal of a drug-related suspension in Frankfurt, Germany.

SOCCER: Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder Steve Ralston is one of 22 players selected to represent the United States in the U.S. Cup, starting June 3. The W-League's Tampa Bay Extreme opens its home schedule 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the Jacksonville Jade at Countryside High School's stadium in Clearwater. Brazilian defender Domingos da Guia, whose elegant style earned him the nickname the "Divine Master," died in Rio de Janeiro of complications after a stroke. He was 87.

CYCLING: Italy's Danilo Di Luca won the 133-mile fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia race. Italy's Matteo Tosatto took the overall leader's pink jersey.

BOWLING: Bob Glass won his first PBA Senior Tour title, beating Pete Couture 245-215 in the final of the Central Pennsylvania Senior Open in Sinking Spring.

COURTS: Tonya Harding pleaded guilty in Camas, Wash., to punching boyfriend Darren Silver and throwing a hubcap at his head. The former U.S. figure skating champion was sentenced to three days in jail on the disorderly conduct and third-degree malicious mischief charge.

LAW: Though professional athletes are handsomely compensated by most people's standards, more pros are filing workers' compensation claims when their careers are cut short by injuries on the job. The trend is disturbing to some, who believe that workers' comp laws are designed to help everyday workers, not professional athletes with fat paychecks. The issue was debated by a panel of lawyers at the Sports Lawyers Association Conference, which runs through Saturday. Even Richard Wagenheim, whose Florida firm represents athletes, admitted that the idea of workers' compensation and athletes "sounds like an oxymoron." Yet as athletes are becoming better informed about their rights under the law, "workers' compensation claims are becoming more and more prevalent in professional sports," Wagenheim said.

_ Compiled from Times wires.