Courier in last four

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The Independent Online
Jim Courier was back to his best when he scored a straight sets victory over fellow-American Michael Chang to secure a meeting with Pete Sampras in today's semi-finals of the Paris Open.

Courier, the former world No 1 and the sixth seed, beat the fourth seed 6-2, 7-6 with a devastating array of baseline strokes. "I've done well at the French Open but never here, so this win is special," said Courier, who triumphed at Roland-Garros in 1991 and 1992.

Sampras, the top seed who has yet to drop a set, disposed of the 30- year-old unseeded Swiss, Jakob Hlasek, 6-2, 6-3. Boris Becker defeated the Dutchman Richard Krajicek, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to complete the semi-final line-up in which he meets Wayne Ferreira, who swept aside Daniel Vacek, 6-2, 6-4.

Courier broke Chang's serve for a 5-3 lead in the first set and wrapped up the set in 35 minutes. Chang also fell 5-3 behind in the second set but then managed to break Courier to force a tie-break. An ace on his first serve and a smash on match point allowed Courier to take it 7-5.

Lindsay Davenport took a small step forward after a dismal slump by beating Tami Whitlinger-Jones 7-5, 6-1 in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland, California. The 19-year-old Davenport, the highest- ranked American player in women's tennis, came into the tournament not having won a match in two months. The last time she reached a semi-final was when she won at Strasbourg in May.

n Steffi Graf, in New York to prepare for the WTA Tour Championships at Madison Square Garden, has revealed the effect her father's troubles with the tax man have had on her game. "Probably for the first time in my life there were times that I felt I didn't want to be out there [on court]," she said. "I couldn't concentrate and obviously when you can't concentrate you start not to play well. I just felt I shouldn't be there."

Results, Sporting Digest, page 27