MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Three-time champion Mats Wilander and former U.S. Open titlist Tracy Austin both hope to turn back the clock when they compete in next month's Australian Open tennis championship.

Wilander has been granted a wildcard for the Open, which will run from Jan. 17-31, while Austin has improved her ranking enough to gain direct entry into the main draw of the first grand slam tournament of the year.

Austin, on the comeback trail, originally applied for a wildcard, but recently lifted her ranking and enters the draw at No. 106.

''We would have granted her a wildcard, but it's good she didn't need one,'' tournament general manager Jim Reid said.

Austin, 31, has competed in only one Australian Open in her career. She made the quarterfinals in 1981.

Wilander, who has been in semi-retirement, made the third round of the U.S. Open last year.

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TOKYO (AP) - Jesse Barfield says he plans to play major league baseball next season, despite a verbal agreement to play for the 1993 Japan champion Yakult Swallows, a Swallows official said Monday.

Kuniaki Nakajima of the Swallows said a club agent in the United States received a telephone call from Barfield saying that he has signed a contract with the Houston Astros.

Barfield, 34, played for the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees before coming to Japan for the 1993 season. He played in 104 games for the Yomiuri Giants and batted .215 with 26 home runs.

The Swallows announced last week that Barfield would play for them in 1994. Nakajima said the club and Barfield reached a verbal agreement following negotiations on conditions including pay, but had not signed a contract. Such a verbal agreement has legal effect, Nakajima added.

He said the Swallows will decide what to do next after contacting the Astros and the U.S. players' union to find out whether Barfield actually has a contract with the Houston team.

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - A teen-ager's dream of repaying his mother for a lifetime of hard work is coming true for Denver Nuggets rookie Rodney Rogers.

Estella Spencer, Rogers' mother, is scheduled to move on Wednesday to a brand new house her son began building her earlier this fall.

''This is a dream that I have had for a long time,'' Rogers said Monday. ''I had it since high school, but there was nothing that I could do about it then. She took care of me for 22 years, now it's my turn to take care of her.''

Spencer says she's ready to be taken care of.

''I have only one word to describe how I feel. Marvelous and wonderful,'' she said. ''Well, that's more than one word. But you know what I mean.''

Rogers acted on his plan soon after he signed his $12-million, six-year contract with the Nuggets. He finally picked out a lot in the new East Durham community of Gray Cliff.

The 1,400-square-foot home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room, huge backyard and a deck. And, most important to Spencer, it is all brick.

''That is something that I've always had in mind if I ever had a house,'' Spencer said. ''I never had any idea that any of this would ever happen to me and my family. That's why I'm so happy.

''When I moved into the projects in 1966, I thought that I would probably be there forever.''

Rogers starred at Wake Forest University. He was Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie and Player of the Year, an all-American and a first-round NBA draft pick.

He has worried about his mother's safety the whole time.

''It was the neighborhood,'' he said. ''It is becoming so violent, and there have been a lot of shootings out there.

''It just makes me feel proud that I can do something for my mother. It seems very odd, because when you hear about people taking care of their parents they are usually 30- to 40-years-old,'' Rogers said. ''I'm only 22 and, hopefully, I'll be able to take care of her for a long time.''

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CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) - Troy Ockerman could become the first bowler to have three consecutive 300 games sanctioned by the American Bowling Congress.

Ockerman, 24, of Owosso bowled a 900 series - 36 consecutive strikes - Saturday to win the King of the Hill tournament.

''I don't know how to describe it,'' Ockerman said. ''I had a lot of room out there and the pins went down. I had a couple of bad hits.''

Ockerman also bowled a 300 game earlier in the day during qualifying.

''I'm still bouncing off the walls,'' he said. ''When I rolled the final strike of the 900 series, I got mugged. Everybody started picking me up.''

Ockerman said that Riverbend Bowl's lanes already have been sanctioned by the ABC and all that's needed to certify the performance is for the organization to check his ball.

It was his fifth 300 game, all coming in the past month. Ockerman said his previous high series was an 831.