Tennis: Dutch top seed pulls through taken to the limit

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The Independent Online
Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, the top seed from the Netherlands, encouraged by 50 Dutch football fans in the gallery, had to struggle to survive before winning her third-round match in the DFS Classic at Edgbaston yesterday.

Schultz-McCarthy, who is 6ft 2in tall, finally beat the Italian Gloria Pizzichini, who is just over five feet, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarter- finals of this Wimbledon warm-up event.

Pizzichini, ranked 52 in the world, 42 places below her rival, won the first set after losing a 5-2 lead and then, at 3-3 in the second set, had three break points.

"That was the turning point," Schultz-McCarthy said. "If I hadn't saved those break points it would have been very difficult because on these courts it is hard to break back. But it was a good match for me to win for not many people return my serve as well as Gloria did today."

Schultz-McCarthy has the fastest serve in the women's game and was timed at 121mph at the Australian Open in January. But she hopes to be a bit quicker at Wimbledon.

Though the third-seeded Natasha Zvereva, struggling with a knee injury, was crushed 6-1, 6-0 by American Meredith McGrath, the big surprise of the day came when Lori McNeil, the sixth seed, was beaten 6-3, 1-6, 6- 3 by Germany's Christina Singer.

McNeil, who beat Steffi Graf in the first round at Wimbledon two years ago, won this tournament in both 1993 and 1994 and was runner-up last year.