Tennis: Anxious Arias prospers from Ivanisevic's errors: American recaptures some of his lost youth to reach the nquarter-finals of the US Hardcourt Championships in Indianapolis

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

JIMMY ARIAS, the 29-year-old American who contemplated retirement last week, produced one of the best victories of his career when he defeated Goran Ivansevic, of Croatia, the world No 10, in the third round of the US Hardcourt Championships in Indianapolis.

Arias, who won 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 against the fourth seed and last year's Wimbledon runner-up, had to qualify for the main draw of this event. Currently ranked No 244 in the world, he has now beaten two seeds on his way to the quarter-finals following his previous win over compatriot Brad Gilbert.

Arias blossomed early in his career, earning America's top junior ranking at 14 years old before turning professional at 15 in 1980. At one stage in 1984, he was ranked No 5 in the world, but a mixture of injuries and illness meant that he failed to realise his early potential. 'I would like to end up playing well,' Arias said. 'I don't care if my playing well isn't good enough to be ranked top 10 anymore. For the last 10 years, I have stunk. I am so much worse than when I was 17 years old.'

Arias, winner here in 1982 when the event was played on clay courts, was helped by an erratic opponent who ended the match with 53 unforced errors.

However, the American still nearly lost the match in the final set when, serving for the match at 5-3 and 40-0, his game fell apart under the tension as he squandered all three match points and lost the game.

'A triple match point and I choked so bad it was disgusting,' Arias said. 'My whole body got hot. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I might lose this game now.' My mind just lost it.' Ivanisevic then returned the compliment, playing a miserable final game, double faulting twice, including the last point of the match.

'This is the worst match I have played in my life,' said Ivanisevic, who has not won a title this year. 'Maybe I should quit and play the women's tour. This is not tennis that I am playing now. Anybody can beat me if I play like that. This may be one of the last tournaments he plays and he beat me.'

Pete Sampras, the defending champion and top seed, survived a scare from his 109th-ranked American compatriot, Jonathan Stark, to win 5-7, 7-6, 6-3.

Also through is another American, Jim Courier, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Spain's Tomas Carbonell as well as the third-seeded Boris Becker, of Germany, who beat Andrei Cherkasov, of Russia, 6-4, 7-5.

In New Haven, Conneticut Ivan Lendl, the former world No 1, earned a quarter-final meeting with Andre Agassi when he defeated the Australian, Sandon Stolle, 6-2, 6-3 in the Volvo International tournament.

Agassi, who had a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Amos Mansdorf, said: 'I felt good about every part of my game tonight. My confidence level is rising with every match.'

Gabriela Sabatini, the former US Open champion, was on the receiving end of the first upset in the Canadian Women's Open in Toronto yesterday, losing to the unseeded French player, Julie Halard, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

'Anyone who plays against me, I guess, has nothing to lose, so they take risks,' said Sabatini who thought her loss was due to a combination of Halard's improved game and her own lack of concentration.

Despite failing to convert a match point in the third set, Halard took control in the tie-break, winning 7-3. 'I knew I had a chance today,' said Halard, who had lost her four previous matches against the Argentinian.

Halard now faces the American, Jennifer Capriati, in the quarter-finals after Capriati thrashed the South African, Amanda Coetzer 6-0, 6-2. Germany's Anke Huber, seeded seventh, and Spain's defending champion, Aranta Sanchez Vicario, also reached the last eight along with Steffi Graf, the world No 1 from Germany.

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