Tennis: Kuerten back to form for title defence

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GUSTAVO KUERTEN is beginning to make his presence felt on red clay as he prepares to defend his French Open title later this month. Kuerten overcame a brief second-set lapse to beat Hicham Arazi 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the German Open in Hamburg yesterday.

Thomas Muster, a former French Open champion, also breezed into the quarter- finals, beating German qualifier Jens Knippschild 6-1, 6-4 in 53 minutes, but the 1989 winner Michael Chang, the 11th seed, lost 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 to Franciso Clavet in a second-round match.

Greg Rusedski, the British No 1, is through to the third round after beating Emilio Alvarez in three sets. Rusedski, the second seed, beat his Spanish opponent 7-6, 0-6, 6-3 yesterday morning. The match was held over from Wednesday with Rusedski leading 3-2 in the third set. He was due to face Goran Ivanisevic last night.

In a battle between two Spanish clay-court specialists, the ninth- seeded Felix Mantilla staged an amazing comeback to beat Alberto Berasategui 1-6, 7-6, 7-6. Berasategui wasted 13 match points as he lost a 5-1 lead in the second set.