Tennis: Sampras on a roll as Korda comes closer

tennis: australian open
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The Independent Online
Pete Sampras is confining his gambling to the blackjack tables as the odds shortened on a successful defence of his Australian Open title in Melbourne yesterday.

Sampras, who has earned around $32m (pounds 21.3m) in prize money alone, admits to betting $1,000 in the local casino, but he will not put a cent on his own chances. The world No 1 outclassed Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson yesterday to move into the fourth round and edge closer to his 11th Grand Slam.

Sampras - yet to drop a set - triumphed 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to book a meeting with Morocco's Hicham Arazi, who beat the Frenchman Francisco Clavet in a five-set match.

"He doesn't have a serve that is going to blow you off the court, but he will get it out wide," said Sampras of Arazi, who beat local hero Mark Philippoussis, seeded 15, in the previous round.

The first real test for Sampras could come in a potential semi-final match with Petr Korda, the man who denied him in the last Grand Slam tournament when the Czech won in five sets in the US Open last year. Korda also took him to five sets at Wimbledon.

Korda celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday with a straight-sets victory over the American Vincent Spadea. He now faces last year's Wimbledon runner- up, Cedric Pioline of France, who beat the No 11 seed, Alex Corretja, in straight sets.

The biggest surprise came in the women's event as the French Open champion, Iva Majoli, was beaten by Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn. Tanasugarn, 20, left the Croatian No 4 seed, who beat Martina Hingis, in the French Open final, close to tears after a 6-0, 6-2 win, which put the Thai player into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Majoli had no idea what hit her. "I think I'm the most shocked person because I was feeling great," Majoli said. "I was playing well and I was feeling well and a thing like this happens, and I didn't do anything different." The unseeded American Venus Williams, who knocked out her sister Serena in the last round, beat France's Amelie Mauresmo.