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Hewitt rolls past Agassi to creep closer to No. 1

Lleyton Hewitt is trying to become the youngest man to end a season at No. 1. Andre Agassi is trying to become the oldest.

Midway through the Masters Cup in Sydney, Australia, Hewitt is closer to his goal.

Hewitt beat Agassi 6-3, 6-4 in round-robin play at the season-ending tennis tournament to clinch a semifinal berth and close in on the top ranking.

"I'm not thinking about it," the 20-year-old Hewitt said of the points race. "If it happens, it happens. It would be a great way to finish the year."

The U.S. Open champion moved within eight points of No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten (771-763) and sent No. 3 Agassi (704) into a must-win match today against Sebastien Grosjean.

Also today, Kuerten plays Juan Carlos Ferrero and Goran Ivanisevic meets Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

In Wednesday's other match, Grosjean beat Pat Rafter 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. That eliminated Rafter from the tournament.

Jimmy Connors, at 22 in 1974, is the youngest player to finish a year at No. 1 since the ATP began computer rankings in 1973. Ivan Lendl, at 29 in 1989, is the oldest.

MORE TENNIS: Rafter could miss the Davis Cup final because of chronic shoulder and arm injuries. Australia plays France on Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

SOCCER: Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Turkey and Brazil qualified for the World Cup. Visiting Slovenia qualified for the first time after tying Romania 1-1 to advance 3-2 on aggregate. Turkey qualified by beating Austria 5-0 at home to complete a 6-0 win. Germany won 4-1 at home over Ukraine to advance 5-2 on aggregate. Belgium won 1-0 at home against the Czech Republic to complete a 2-0 win. And Brazil qualified with a 3-0 victory at home over Venezuela. Host Uruguay tied 1-1 with Argentina and earned a place in a two-match playoff with Australia for a berth. Ireland and Iran play in Tehran today in another playoff. Ireland won the opener 2-0 last weekend. Twelve top Spanish clubs said they would be forced into liquidation if bound to pay their tax debts. Representatives of 18 teams said they had been informed they owe a combined total of $185-million. Madrid tops the list at $32-million. The clubs disagree with authorities, however, on what is taxable and are contesting the sums. Juan Carlos Lorenzo, who coached Argentina to World Cup appearances in 1962 and 1966, died at 79 of heart failure in Buenos Aires. He also coached in the top divisions in Italy, Spain and France.

WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Sweden might not send a team to the Olympics because of a winless streak dating to the spring. A committee will make a final decision Dec. 19. If the Swedes pull out, they will be replaced by Switzerland. The Swedes are winless in 14 games since the 2001 World Championships. They just returned from a tournament in Finland, where they scored three goals in five games.

TRACK AND FIELD Carl Lewis, who won a record-tying nine Olympic gold medals, and three other members of the 1984 Olympic team were voted into the Hall of Fame. Lewis, long jumper-sprinter Larry Myricks and distance runners Henry Marsh and Alberto Salazar will be inducted Nov. 30. Cornelius "Dutch" Warmerdam, a pole vaulter who held numerous world marks and was the first to clear 15 feet, died at 86 in Clovis, Calif. He had Alzheimer's disease.

VOLLEYBALL: The U.S. women lost their second straight in the World Grand Champions Cup, a round-robin event in Tokyo, falling to China 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22.

FIGURE SKATING: Michael Rosenberg, who represented Tonya Harding, Oksana Baiul and Rudy Galindo, retired after a 25-year career as a manager and agent. Rosenberg, 58, also worked with Dorothy Hamill, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Elizabeth Manley and Viktor Petrenko.

SKIING: Picabo Street was kicked off a mountain in Denver for skiing too fast. The Olympic gold medalist and other members of the U.S. team were practicing Nov. 3 at Copper Mountain Ski Resort. She was stopped when she went onto an intermediate run. "She wasn't out of control," resort spokeswoman Beth Jahnigen said Wednesday. "Given the number of people in a small area, they felt it was too fast. The patrol who stopped her didn't even know who she was."

CYCLING: Belgian rider Frank Vandenbroucke is in talks to join Marco Pantani's Mercatone Uno team next season. Vandenbroucke, ranked as high as No. 3 in the world two years ago, hasn't raced since Italian team Lampre-Daikin fired him in June for failing to show for a race.

_ Compiled from Times wires.

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