Arazi keeps winning habit

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The Independent Online

Hicham Arazi, the unseeded Moroccan who knocked Tim Henman out of the Newsweek Champions Cup on Wednesday night, progressed to the quarter-finals here yesterday when he overcame Greg Rusedski's conqueror Max Mirnyi 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

After the match Arazi, who also knocked the world No 1 and top seed Andre Agassi out of the tournament in the first round, admitted he had a realistic chance of winning the tournament, despite a difficult game in the last eight against the 23-year-old Nicolas Lapentti from Ecuador.

"It will be a tough match," Arazi said. "It is getting more open. I'm in a good way. I'm playing good. Anything can happen." When asked if he could win the tournament, he added: "Maybe, maybe."

Lapentti, who has had a busy year so far, stayed on track with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 win over the Frenchman Nicolas Escude. In the deciding tie-break, Lapentti won the first three points before hitting a lob long. He then built his lead to 6-1 and sealed victory after a brief fightback from the Frenchman, who eventually put a lob out.

This is the seventh tournament of the year for Lapentti, who has won three titles in his career and is looking for his first victory of 2000.

In his third week back on tour after shoulder surgery had kept him out of action for six months, the 13th-seeded Patrick Rafter fought valiantly, but lost to Alex Corretja, of Spain, 7-6, 5-7, 6-2. The No 3 seed, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, was the victim of a 7-5, 6-2 upset at the hands of the Dutchman Sjeng Schalken.

The seventh-seeded Marcelo Rios, of Chile, the 1998 champion, was beaten by the Argentinian, Mariano Zabaleta, 7-6, 6-3.

Results

Men's singles, third round

H Arazi bt M Mirnyi 7-5 3-6 6-4 N Lapentti bt N Escude 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7/3). P Sampras bt B Black 4-6, 6-3, 6-2

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