Sluggish Sampras made to struggle

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The Independent Online

Pete Sampras, the top seed, and the defending champion, Michael Chang, both looked sluggish as they reached the second round of the Hong Kong Open yesterday.

Sampras lost the second set before beating Sebastien Lareau, of Canada, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. His fellow American Chang defeated Marcos Ondruska, of South Africa, 7-6, 6-1.

Sampras won the first set easily enough against the world No 127, but lost concentration and three successive games at the end of the second. But the world No 2 increased the tempo in the deciding set and a stream of outright winners clinched the match.

In the second round Sampras will meet the Australian Patrick Rafter, who is making a comeback after an operation on his right wrist last October.

Chang, the second seed, who is hoping for his third straight Hong Kong Open title, had a tough first set against Ondruska. "I always have to play a lot of tough points against Marcos," Chang said. "I had to break his serve to stay in the first set but in the second set I started to play better."

Sandon Stolle, of Australia, upset the fourth seed, Jakob Hlasek, and Jean Fleurian beat the seventh seed, Johan Van Herck, to reach the quarter- finals of the Indian Open in New Delhi yesterday.

The fifth seed, Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, and the sixth seed, Britain's Tim Henman, fell in the first round on Tuesday.

In the doubles, Sander Groen and Magnus Norman defeated the English pairing of Mark Petchey and Danny Sapsford in a match that ended early when Petchey left the court with stomach problems. Groen and Norman had won the first set 6-2 and were trailing 0-1 in the second.

Third-seeded Magdalena Maleeva, of Bulgaria, suffered a surprise second- round exit at the hands of the unfancied Austrian Barbara Schett in the Bausch and Lomb Championships at Amelia Island, Florida, yesterday.

Schett, ranked 58th in the world, beat the eighth-ranked Maleeva 6-1, 6-3 after a lightning start which saw her win the first five games.