Michael Chang and Wayne Ferreira survived three-set matches to advance to the third round of the Paris Open yesterday.
Chang, seeded fourth, rallied to beat Byron Black of Zimbabwe, 4-6, 6- 3, 6-3, while the ninth-seeded Ferreira had a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, victory over the American Richey Reneberg.
Pete Sampras, the top seed who is assured of regaining the No 1 ranking for at least a week, begins his challenge today. Sampras then goes on to Frankfurt to defend his title in the ATP Tour Championship on 14 November.
Chang used his strong service to beat Black, firing 14 aces with a speed up to 193 kilometres an hour (120 mph). He once strung three aces in a row to fight off set points early in the first set before dropping behind.
"It's nice to be able to throw in some big serves at important moments," Chang said. "It certainly gives you confidence because you know you can win some free points." He came back strongly to win the two-hour match.
Ferreira wasted a match point in the second set at 5-4 and Reneberg came back to force a third set before bowing to Ferreira.
Andre Agassi, currently ranked No 1, won the Paris tournament last year but a recurrence of his chest-muscle injury last week at Essen, forced him to withdraw from the event. As a result, he will lose those ATP ranking points, allowing Sampras to move up from second place.
The rankings are based on the results of a player's best 14 tournament results over the last 12 months. Sampras has won the Wimbledon title and the US Open this year while Agassi captured the Australian Open.
Only Agassi, the injured Michael Stich and Yevgeny Kafelnikov are missing from the top 15 players in the world in this Paris tournament.