Tennis: Sampras struggles to rendezvous with Courier: World No 1 is given a hard game by lowly ranked Swede as the two times former champion gears up for a quarter-final confrontation

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The Independent Online
PETE SAMPRAS has never before played Jim Courier on clay, and the world champion is unlikely to relish the prospect in the quarter-finals of the French Open after his experience against Mikael Tillstroem, a Swede ranked No 226 who went up in everybody's estimation yesterday.

Tillstroem, who had not even won a qualifying match at a Grand Slam event until he arrived here, recovered from being two sets down to the man who holds the Wimbledon, United States and Australian titles and came close to pushing Sampras into a fifth set.

Sampras had to save four break points in the eighth game of the fourth set before steadying his game to win, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 after two hours and 36 minutes.

'That game was pivotal,' Sampras acknowledged. 'If he'd won it he would have served for the set. I had let him back in the match, and he was fighting to the very last point. It wasn't pretty, but I got the job done and I'm still in the tournament.'

Courier, the champion in 1991 and 1992, advanced to face Sampras by defeating France's Olivier Delatre, 6-1, 6-7, 6-1, 7-6. Though he has won only two of his 12 previous matches against Sampras, the slower surface may provide a balance between his hefty groundstrokes and his compatriot's magificent serve.

As Sampras said: 'Jim is one of the best clay-court players in the world, if not the best, I've got to reach a higher level. It's going to be a war.'

An exaggeration, perhaps, though the top half of the draw - Sergi Bruguera, the defending champion, plays Andrei Medvedev, the fourth seed, in the other quarter-final - is certainly more of a battlefield than the lower half, where Saturday's elimination of the 1989 champion, Michael Chang, and Todd Martin (No 9) leaves only Goran Ivanisevic (No 5), guaranteeing an unseeded semi-finalist.

Local interest now centres on the women's event. 'Mar-ie] Mar- e]' was the cry on the Centre Court, 'Allez Julie]' the chant on Court A. Les filles arrivent, and just in time to ease home disappointment at the departure of Delatre.

Francoise Durr, in 1967, was the last Frenchwoman to win the singles championship, and though few would wager that Mary Pierce or Julie Halard will be in a position to emulate her come Saturday, home supporters already have a record to acclaim.

Pierce is the only player in the open era to to lose only four games in advancing to the quarter-finals of the women's singles here, which speaks volumes for the improvement in her game since her disruptive father, Jim, was banned from attending tournaments a year ago.

Chris Evert allowed opponents only two games en route to the last eight of the 1976 United States Open, which stands as the record for the four Grand Slam championships since tennis turned professional in 1968.

The French must delve back to the balletic Suzanne Lenglen who conceded only two games in four matches at Stade Francais in 1925 and only three games in four matches at the Racing Club de France the following year. The championships moved to their home at Stade Roland Garros in 1928, by which time Lenglen had left the amateur game.

Martina Navratilova made her Grand Slam debut here in 1973, the last time two Frenchwomen reached the quarter-finals: Odile de Rubin lost, while Durr went on to be defeated in the semi-finals by Evert.

Pierce, the 12th seed, was far too confident in her shot-making for the South African Amanda Coetzer yesterday, winning 6-1, 6-1. Pierce now meets the Austrian Petra Ritter for the first time, with the possibility of a semi-final against Steffi Graf awaiting the winner.

The unseeded Halard, impressive in out-lasting Natalia Zvereva, the seventh seed, 7-6, 7-5, faces the No 2 seed, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who took advanage of Anke Huber's limitation, beating the German 6-3, 6-2, and appeared none the worse for taking a tumble in the sixth game of the second set.

Graf, showing greater patience than in her two previous matches, performed like the defending champion we know, sweeping aside the young Romanian, Irina Spirlea, 6-0, 6-1. The German breaks new ground again with a match against Ines Gorrochategui, and the other quarter-final is between Conchita Martinez, the third seed, and Sabine Hack, seeded 16.

Two British players advanced to the second round of the junior singles events against American opponents. Jamie Delgado defeated John Roddick, 7-6, 6-3, and Megan Miller beat Cristina Moros, 6-2, 6-2.

FRENCH OPEN TENNIS RESULTS

MEN'S SINGLES Third round: A Berasategui (Sp) bt Y Kafelnikov (Rus) 6-3 6-2 6-2; A Gaudenzi (It) bt A Boetsch (Fr) 6-1 2-1 ret; H Dreekmann (Ger) bt R Reneberg (US) 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-4; M Larsson (Swe) bt T MARTIN (US) 6-7 6-3 6-0 1-6 6-3; G IVANISEVIC (Croa) bt A Corretja (Sp) 6-7 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-3; J Yzaga (Peru) bt M CHANG (US) 6-2 6-3 5-7 1-6 7-5; J Frana (Arg) bt M Woodforde (Aus) 6-4 3-6 6-0 4-6 10-8; A Krickstein (US) bt R Vasek (Cz Rep) 6-3 1-6 6-3 6-3. Fourth round: A MEDVEDEV (Ukr) bt J Eltingh (Neth) 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-1; J COURIER (US) bt O Delaitre (Fr) 6-1 6-7 6-1 7-6; S BRUGUERA (Sp) bt P Rafter (Aus) 6-4 6-3 6-1; P SAMPRAS (US) bt M Tillstroem (Swe) 6-4 6-4 1-6 6-4.

WOMEN'S SINGLES Third round: A SANCHEZ VICARIO (Sp) bt B Rittner (Ger) 6-4 6-2; J Halard (Fr) bt L DAVENPORT (US) 6-4 6-2; A HUBER (Ger) bt L Meskhi (Geo) 6-1 6-4; A Dechaume-Balleret (Fr) bt M Grossi (It) 6-3 6-2; S Stafford (US) bt A Grossman (US) 6-7 6-3 6-3; N ZVEREVA (Bela) bt Wang Shi-Ting (Tai) 6-2 6-1; S HACK (Ger) bt A Fusai (Fr) 6-0 6-7 6-1; C MARTINEZ (Sp) bt B Schultz (Neth) 7-5 6-3. Fourth round: A SANCHEZ VICARIO (Sp) bt A HUBER (Ger) 6-3 6-2; J Halard (Fr) bt N Zvereva (Bela) 7-6 7-5; P Ritter (Aut) bt R Dragomir (Rom) 7-6 4-6 6-0; M PIERCE (Fr) bt A Coetzer (SA) 6-1 6-1; S HACK (Ger) bt S Stafford (US) 6-4 6-2; C MARTINEZ (Sp) bt A Dechaume-Balleret (Fr) 6-1 6-2; S GRAF (Ger) bt I Spirlea (Rom) 6-0 6-1; I Gorrochategui (Arg) bt I Majoli (Croa) 7-5 6-4.

MEN'S DOUBLES Second round: D ADAMS (Aus) and A OLHOVSKIY (Rus) bt A Kratzmann and M Kratzmann (Aus) 6-2 6-3; T NIJSSEN (Neth) and C SUK (Cz Rep) bt R Bergh (Swe) and M Oosting (Neth) 6-3 6-4; J Eagle and P Kilderry (Aus) bt M Barnard and B Haygarth (SA) 3-6 7-6 6-4; J ELTINGH and P HAARHUIS (Neth) bt P Albano (Arg) and R Smith (Baham) 7-6 6-3; G CONNELL (Can) and P GALBRAITH (US) bt G Forget (Fr) and J Hlasek (Swit) 6-2 6-3. Third round: J APELL and J BJORKMAN (Swe) bt T NIJSSEN (Neth) and C SUK (Cz Rep) 6-3 6-1; S Casal and E Sanchez (Sp) bt P McEnroe and R Reneberg (US) 6-3 7-6; G CONNELL (Can) and P GALBRAITH (US) bt J Eagle and P Kilderry (Aus) 6-1 6-4; T WOODBRIDGE and M WOODFORDE (Aus) bt L JENSEN and M JENSEN (US) 6-1 6-2.

WOMEN'S DOUBLES Second round: P FENDICK and M McGRATH (US) bt V Ruano-Pascual (Sp) and I Spirlea (Rom) 6-1 6-2; M J FERNANDEZ and Z GARRISON-JACKSON (US) bt S Collins (US) and M De Swardt (SA) 6-3 6-1; A COETZER (SA) and I GORROCHATEGUI (Arg) bt A Frazier and K Po (US) 7-6 6-3; M BOLLEGRAF (Neth) and M NAVRATILOVA (US) bt K Radford (Aus) and J Richardson (NZ) 6-1 3-6 6-0; J BYRNE and R McQUILLAN (Aus) bt M Strandlund (Swe) and D Szabova (Cz Rep) 6-3 7-5; S Cecchini (It) and P Tarabini (Arg) bt C Barclay and K-A Guse (Aus) 6-0 6-4; L McNEIL (US) and R STUBBS (Aus) bt A Fusai (Fr) and M Mroz (Pol) 6-0 6-2; G Sabatini (Arg) and B Schultz (Neth) bt K Boogert and N Muns-Jagerman (Neth) 3-6 7-5 6-2; L DAVENPORT and L RAYMOND (US) bt D Jones (Aus) and Y Kamio (Japan) 7-6 7-5; G FERNANDEZ (US) and N ZVEREVA (Bela) bt A Grossman (US) and C Vis (Neth) 6-3 6-4; J HALARD and N TAUZIAT (Fr) bt A Huber (Ger) and M Oremans (Neth) 6-3 6-3; S Farina (It) and G Helgeson (US) bt A Dechaume-Balleret (Fr) and F Labat (Arg) 6-3 4-6 6-3.

MIXED DOUBLES First round: E Smylie and J Fitzgerald (Aus) bt I Demongeot (Fr) and R Deppe (SA) 6- 1 4-6 6-1; S Graf (Ger) and H Leconte (Fr) bt S Niox- Chateau and J P Fleurian (Fr) 7-6 6-1; A Coetzer and L Bale (SA) bt N Van Lottum and G Solves (Fr) 6-2 6-3; L McNeil (US) and J Lozano (Mex) bt S Appelmans (Bel) and E Ferreira (SA) 7-5 6-3; E De Lone (US) and J Eagle (Aus) bt N Miyagi (Japan) and K Kinnear (US) 6-1 6-3; C Barclay (Aus) and D Randall (US) bt E Reinach and D Visser (SA) 7-5 6-2. Second round: L Neiland (Lat) and A Olhovskiy (Rus) bt M Pierce (Fr) and L Jensen (US) 6-3 6-3; H Sukova (Cz Rep) and T Woodbridge (Aus) bt J Faull and A Kratzmann (Aus) 6-2 7-6; I Gorrochategui (Arg) and J Sanchez (Sp) bt C Vis (Neth) and P Norval (SA) 6-4 7-6; L Raymond and R Leach (US) bt K-A Guse and L Warder (Aus) 2-6 6-3 7-5; N Medvedeva (Ukr) and P Haarhuis (Neth) bt Z Garrison-Jackson and F Montana (US) 7-6 6-4; K Radford (Aus) and J Pugh (US) bt K Adams (US) and D Adams (Aus) 6-1 7-5; M Jaggard-Lai (Aus) and K Jones (US) bt R Stubbs (Aus) and E Sanchez (Sp) 7-6 6-4; L McNeil (US) and J Lozano (Mex) bt M BOLLEGRAF and T NIJSSEN (Neth) 6-2 6-4; A SANCHEZ VICARIO and S CASAL (Sp) bt E Smylie and J Fitzgerald (Aus) 6-3 4-6 6-2; A Coetzer and L Bale (SA) bt P SHRIVER (US) and B BLACK (Zim) 6-3 2-6 6- 2; E De Lone (US) and J Eagle (Aus) bt J RICHARDSON (NZ) and K FLACH (US) 7-6 6-4; M McGRATH and S MELVILLE (US) bt S Graf (Ger) and H Leconte (Fr) 6-2 1-6 10-8.

Seeds in capitals

(Photograph omitted)

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