McEnroe rolls past Connors in SwissJohn McEnroe and Jimmy...

Sports briefly

September 29, 1991

McEnroe rolls past Connors in Swiss

John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors met in an eagerly awaited semifinal at the Swiss Indoor tennis tournament yesterday in Basel, Switzerland, but the result was a one-sided McEnroe victory, 6-1, 6-3. McEnroe will play Switzerland's Jakob Hlasek, a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 winner over Alexander Volkov of the Soviet Union, in the final.

McEnroe, 32, needed just 78 minutes to finish off Connors, who astonished the tennis world by reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Open at 39 last month. McEnroe, who has won 19 of 32 against Connors, said: "I expected a tougher fight, but it obviously was not Jimmy's day."

* Martina Navratilova was forced to retire from her semifinal against Mary Joe Fernandez in the Essen, Germany, invitational women's tournament because of a thigh strain. After winning the first set, 6-3, Navratilova, 34, found herself hampered by a muscle injury in her left thigh and pulled out with Fernandez leading, 2-1, in the second set.

In today's final of the $500,000 event, Fernandez will play No. 1 Monica Seles, who cruised past last year's finalist Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia, 6-0, 6-3, in the second semifinal.

* Aaron Krickstein, aiming to end a two-year victory drought, moved into Queensland Open final in Brisbane, Australia, with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union. Krickstein will play Gianluca Pozzi for the title after the unseeded Italian defeated Australian Jason Stoltenberg, 6-3, 6-1, in the other semifinal.

* Top-seeded Emilio Sanchez of Spain defeated Marian Vajda of Czechoslovakia, 6-1, 6-2, in the semifinals of the Palermo, Sicily, ATP tournament. Frederic Fontang of France also advanced, with a victory over Jorde Arrese of Spain, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5).

* Top seeds Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere and Leila Meskhi won semifinal-round matches in the Bayonne (France) Open. Maleeva-Fragniere, the No. 1 seed, struggled to beat Australia's seventh-seeded Rachel McQuillan, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, and Meshki, a Soviet player, beat third-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-2, 7-5.

Pro football

The Minnesota Vikings, who won only eight of their past 20 games, are pro football's highest-paid team, according to NFL ,, Players Association salary records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The records show the Vikings will pay an average of $549,100 in "total salary" per player this season. That's a nearly one-third increase over the team's 1990 per-player average.

Though the Vikings bumped perennial salary champion San Francisco from the top spot, the 49ers still led the NFL this year in average base salary for all players at $454,575. Total salary per season includes base pay along with all signing, roster, reporting and workout bonuses. It does not include incentives for performance or playing time.

Auto racing

Dale Earnhardt led second-day qualifying for the Tyson Holly Farms 400 NASCAR race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. Earnhardt, who has yet to win a pole this season, turned a fast lap of 115.854 mph on the five-eighths-mile oval. That was a big improvement over the 114.767 he had Friday in the opening round of time trials.

Earnhardt, who leads Ricky Rudd by only 59 points in the battle for the 1991 Winston Cup championship, will start 16th in today's 33-car lineup. Harry Gant won the pole and will be attempting to win his fifth straight Winston cup event.

* Gerhard Berger gained his first pole position in more than a year, retaining the top spot in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. However, the battle for the season's championship will continue alongside him and behind him at the start of today's race.

Ayrton Senna of Brazil, closing in on his third world title, will start in the second row, behind Berger and Britain's Nigel Mansell. If Senna finishes ahead of Mansell or holds at least 21 of his 24-point lead going into the last two races of the season, Senna will win the title, adding to his championships of 1988 and 1990.

* Track officials soon will announce changes in the configuration of Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International's Turn 5, scene of a crash in August that killed driver J.D. McDuffie. The ideas started pouring in after McDuffie's Aug. 11 death during the Bud at the Glen NASCAR Winston Cup Race.

Richard Petty, who is expected to announce at a Tuesday news conference that 1992 will be his last season as a driver, slipped from 113.413 on Friday to 113.202 for 32nd.

Steroids

In a survey of 506 retired NFL players by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 37 players (7 percent) admitted having used steroids. The survey showed that 57 percent of those who had played in the league at least four years said use of steroids increased during their careers.

Of those who said they used steroids, 21 percent also said they experienced side effects, including high blood pressure, aggressive behavior, abdominal cramps and severe headaches. The athletes interviewed played in the 1970s and 1980s, the newspaper said.

Boxing

Welcome Ncita (29-0) of South Africa retained his International Boxing Federation junior featherweight title by winning a split decision over Colombia's Sugar Baby Rojas in Sun City, South Africa. It was Ncita's fifth defense of the title, and his second fight with Rojas since February.

Two of the three American judges gave the decision to Ncita, 115-113.

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