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Sports Briefs

Posted: Friday, November 29, 2002

Report: Mets may owe city $1 million in unpaid rent

NEW YORK -- The Mets might owe the city $1 million in back rent for Shea Stadium, the New York Post reported Thursday.

''It's a projection based on an initial audit,'' Megan Sheekey, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department, told the Post.

Sheekey said the estimate covers the past few years.

The Mets pay about $10 million in rent each year, but the amount fluctuates based on attendance and revenue.

Mathieu to open France's Davis Cup title defense

PARIS -- Captain Guy Forget picked inexperienced Paul-Henri Mathieu over ailing Arnaud Clement for France's pursuit of a second straight Davis Cup title.

The 20-year-old Mathieu, who never has played a Davis Cup match, was selected to play singles along with Sebastien Grosjean against Russia on clay at the Bercy indoor stadium.

The best-of-five series opens Friday.

France is seeking consecutive titles for the first time since 1932 and its 10th championship overall. Russia is playing in its third final but has never won the Davis Cup.

Mathieu was drawn Thursday to face 2000 U.S. Open champion Marat Safin in the opening match, followed by Grosjean against two-time Grand Slam title winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Kafelnikov and Safin will team to play Nicolas Escude and Fabrice Santoro in Saturday's doubles match. In Sunday's reverse singles, Grosjean will open against Safin, and Mathieu will play the last match against Kafelnikov.

Forget chose Mathieu over the more experienced Clement, who has been slowed the last six months by wrist tendinitis.

''It was a risk for me, but Arnaud said he was not 100 percent, and for that kind of match you have to be at your best,'' Forget said. ''Paul-Henri was almost at his top level and I thought it was wise for the team to choose him.''

Just last month, Mathieu beat Safin -- the Australian Open runner-up in January -- in straight sets in the Kremlin Cup semifinals on the way to his first singles title. Mathieu also won the title the next week in Lyon.

And the youngster beat Pete Sampras at a tuneup event the week before the U.S. Open, a few months after taking Andre Agassi to five sets at the French Open.

So Mathieu was unfazed at the prospect of playing his first Davis Cup match in a final on home soil.

''It's my first match in the Davis Cup, it's true, but I like taking risks,'' he said. ''I'm not afraid of anyone. I already beat him before 12,000 people on his home ground, and tomorrow he will try taking revenge.''

Safin predicted that Mathieu would have a difficult time repeating his performance from the Kremlin Cup.

''This is not an individual match, this is a team event,'' Safin said. ''The burden of pressure will be on Mathieu's shoulders.''

Clement was left off the French team for a Davis Cup final for a second time. He was dropped in favor of grass-court specialist Escude last year at Australia.

''I'm disappointed, of course,'' Clement said. ''On certain shots I wasn't able to give everything. Without a doubt, I wasn't capable of winning a point.''

Grosjean, ranked 16th in the world, has a 2-3 record against Kafelnikov and a 2-4 record against Safin, who beat him in the quarterfinals of the French Open in June.

Escude and Santoro have limited experience playing doubles together, but they did win the Paris Masters doubles title at Bercy this month. That match was played on indoor carpet.

Kafelnikov, who won his third French Open doubles title this year, repeatedly has said he will retire if Russia wins the Davis Cup.

''The pressure will be totally on the French side,'' he said. ''They're the defending champions and will be playing in front of a home crowd.''



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