Andre Agassi lost the Stockholm Open final, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), yesterday to Sweden's Thomas Johansson, who won the tournament for the second time.
Johansson, a former Australian Open champion, rallied from a set down before a packed Royal Tennis Hall crowd that included Agassi's wife, Steffi Graf.
"I was pretty discouraged with the level of tennis he was playing" in the second set, Agassi said. "I wasn't getting any chances. I hung in there and I managed to make it a competitive set. But, again, I was just playing to hang on."
Johansson led all the way in the tiebreaker, going up 6-3 after two mini-breaks. Agassi saved the first match point with a passing shot. Johansson, backed by clapping, foot-stomping fans, then smacked an ace to close the match. He had lost all six previous matches to Agassi.
"This was probably my best match ever," said Johansson, who was unseeded in the $822,000 event. "I can't remember when I played this well. Even if I had lost today I would have said this was one of my best matches." . . .
Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic won the Swiss Indoors in Basel for his first indoor title, defeating David Nalbandian in five sets in a final in which the Argentine smashed two rackets.
Novak, who was not seeded, won, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, giving him two titles this season and seven for his career. . . .
Alicia Molik of Australia won her second straight title, defeating Dinara Safina of Russia, 6-3, 6-4, in the SEAT Open final in Luxembourg.
Molik, seeded second and ranked No. 14, has three titles this year and four for her career.
"To win two tournaments in a row feels great," Molik said. "It's something I've never done before."
* BASEBALL: The St. Louis Cardinals fired hitting coach Mitchell Page, but not because of the team's poor hitting in its World Series loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Page told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he will enter an alcohol treatment facility near his Oakland, Calif., home this week after he was let go on Thursday by Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty and Manager Tony La Russa.
Page served as the Cardinals' hitting coach for 31/2 seasons and told the newspaper that he declined a minor league position with the club. He said his departure from the Cardinals was a mutual decision between him and the team.
"I need help and I'm going to get it," Page told the newspaper. "I don't want a lot of speculation going around about why I left and what was going on. I have an alcohol problem and I'm going to get treatment for it.
"I'm going to take the heat and the blame and admit I'm an alcoholic. I screwed up."
* COLLEGES: Kelly Albin, a lacrosse player at the UC Davis who also served as a volunteer in Peru, was chosen as the NCAA Woman of the Year.
Albin was selected for her athletic and academic excellence, as well as community service and leadership.
She led UC Davis to a No. 2 ranking in Division II lacrosse and ranked 12th in assists per game (1.71) and 19th in points per game (4.24).
Albin set 18 school records, including shots in a game, career assists, season assists, assists in a game, career ground balls and career turnovers.
Albin graduated magna cum laude in March with a 3.953 grade-point average in food science, with an emphasis on microbiology.
Albin also served as a volunteer in Peru in 2003, teaching physical education, building clean-burning stoves in adobe houses, installing septic systems and flush toilets in a preschool, and planting trees on a reforestation site. She was also a volunteer at a Shriner Hospital.
* FIGURE SKATING: Bulgaria's Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski won the gold medal in ice dancing with an overall score of 208.93 points at Skate Canada in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Bulgarians, second in the world last year, won the free dance competition and edged Canada's Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon by five points for the title.
Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell of the United States finished ninth.
-- From News Services