Milligan's marathon

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The Independent Online
There were some notable winners in the men's singles yesterday - Boris Becker, Michael Stich, and Luke Milligan, whose amazing adventure continued when the 19-year-old from Middlesex advanced to the third round after winning his second five-set marathon in 24 hours.

Milligan's victory guaranteed that Britain would be represented in the fourth round for the fifth year consecutively. His next opponent will be a compatriot, either Tim Henman or Danny Sapsford.

Having defeated the Swedish Davis Cup player Jonas Bjorkman on Tuesday, Milligan survived a battle of endurance against Nicolas Lapentti, of Ecuador, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 6-7, 6-1 in three hours and 46 minutes.

Until this week, Milligan had not won a match other than in satellite and Challenger events and his world ranking, No 278, was 244 places beneath Bjorkman's and 192 below Lapentti's.

Milligan eventually triumphed yesterday by converting his eighth match point - an hour and 50 minutes after his first - and during the final two sets the players took turns in hobbling about Court No 13 with cramp.

The scene had been altogether different in the third set. Milligan, swift to assert himself, led 6-5 and had two match points on his opponent's serve. Lapentti saved them, and forced a tie-break. Although Milligan recovered from 1-5, he lost the shoot-out, 5-7.

In the fourth set Milligan led 3-1 and 5-4, but was in pain from the cramp in his left leg and took salt tablets during a change-over. He was broken when serving for the match for the first time, two double-faults contributing to his problems.

There was further drama after Milligan broke back to 6-5 and called for the trainer, who told him, "I can't touch you." Grand Slam rules do not allow treatment for what are regarded as injuries associated with conditioning.

Although Milligan reached his third match point in the next game, Lapentti erased it with a forehand drive, broke for 6-6, and won the tie-break, 7-3, to level the match.

Lapentti requested the trainer after Milligan had taken a 2-0 lead in the final set, but could only be given tablets and advice. He was warned for delaying the progress of the fourth game as Milligan continued to dominate.

Serving for the match for the third time, at 6-1, the Briton double-faulted on his sixth match point and netted a forehand on the seventh, before finally bringing relief to himself and the spectators by delivering a winning backhand volley.

Colin Beecher, from Kent, became the first of Britain's second-round contenders to fall, losing to Italy's Renzo Furlan, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Becker, the No 2 seed, made an uncomfortable start to his match against Tomas Carbonell, finding himself a set and a break down against the Spaniard before raising his game to win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. "He's a very tough player," Becker said. "For 10 or 15 minutes he doesn't do much, and all of a sudden he hits winners off great serves. He made some amazing shots to break me."

Stich, the 10th seed, caught up with the rest of the top half of the draw by winning his first round match which had been suspended overnight. Play resumed with Stich leading the Dutchman Sjeng Schalken, one set all and 4-1, and the German did not delay in completing the victory, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

The ninth-seeded Thomas Enqvist was eliminated by the American MaliVai Washington, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3, but then the 22-year-old Swede has hardly set the place alive, his win against the Canadian Albert Chang in the first round being his first in three visits.

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