Tennis / Lipton Championships: Edberg swamps Forget

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ALAN MILLS probably could get Wimbledon completed in a day if there was a retractable roof on the Centre Court, but the All England Club's much-travelled referee has encountered all manner of problems at the Sod's Law Open, officially known as the Lipton Championships, here in the Sunshine State.

When the sun eventually did shine on the tournament yesterday, the Centre Court was unplayable. Torrential overnight rain in the wake of last weekend's hurricane had seeped between the rubberised surface and the concrete base. Stefan Edberg and Guy Forget began to knock up for the opening match, and the surface peeled underfoot like a rotting carpet after a household flood.

As Edberg and Forget packed their bags and returned to the locker- rooms, eventually to be switched to Court Seven, the Centre Court spectators joined the queues for Court One, where Jim Courier was making short work of Mikael Pernfors.

The world No 1, who took the first nine games in winning the third- round match, 6-0, 6-3, had reason to hustle. He was due to play a fourth- round match against Mark Woodforde in the night session in order to catch up with the schedule. 'It feels good to sweat,' a philosophical Courier said between engagements.

Andre Agassi was left cold. The Wimbledon champion did not adjust well to being moved to Court One and was eliminated in the fourth round by the hefty serving Richard Krajicek,

6-2, 7-5. Agassi found the wind capricious and the environment 'rowdy and a little chaotic', and being broken when serving for the second set did not help. The Dutchman finished the job with an ace. Nor was it a good day for Michael Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion, who was defeated by Marcos Ondruska of South Africa 7-6, 6-3.

Edberg advanced to the quarter- finals, defeating Forget, 6-2, 6-4. The Swede's coach, Tony Pickard, is among a growing number of people disaffected with the event. 'I don't know why the players put up with it,' he said.

The Centre Court was deemed fit for play again by the early evening, when Gabriela Sabatini defeated Jana Novotna, 6-2, 6-3, in the first of the women's quarter-finals.

Butch Buchholz, the tournament chairman, wondered what else could go wrong as he stood among a group of kneeling workmen on the damaged court. 'I'll tell you this,' he said, 'you don't want to go to Las Vegas with me.'