Grosjean restores calm as supporters turn against umpire

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The Independent Online

The 18-year-old Rafael Nadal gave a television camera a confident wink as he walked on to Centre Court yesterday to play Sébastien Grosjean, from Marseilles, for a place in the quarter-finals at the French Open.

The 18-year-old Rafael Nadal gave a television camera a confident wink as he walked on to Centre Court yesterday to play Sébastien Grosjean, from Marseilles, for a place in the quarter-finals at the French Open.

It was not long, however, before the Spanish prodigy had reason to imagine he was in a bear pit.

Angered by the umpire's refusal to step down from his chair after Grosjean asked him to check a mark on the baseline on break point to Nadal in the opening game of the second set, the spectators howled and gave the thumbs down to the Argentinian official, Damien Steiner.

Steiner had already announced the score, and Grosjean had played another shot out after the offending call. The protests held up play for five minutes as Nadal prepared to serve to start the second game. The umpire called a supervisor, but the din continued until Grosjean waved his racket, appealing for calm.

Nadal, leading by a set and 1-0, was broken back to 1-1 and went on to lose the second set. The next delay was for rain, and play was suspended with Nadal leading, 6-4, 3-6, 3-0.

Roger Federer, the world No 1, took another step towards completing his set of the Grand Slam titles when his opponent, Carlos Moya, of Spain, was barely capable of swatting a fly because of a shoulder injury.

"I have very little to say except that I was able to save some energy," Federer said after putting Moya, the 1998 champion, out of his misery, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. "It was brave of Carlos to finish the match."

Federer, who has yet to drop a set, next plays the unseeded Romanian Victor Hanescu, who advanced to his first quarter-final in nine Grand Slam tournaments with a surprising win against the 10th-seeded David Nalbandian, of Argentina, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

Hanescu has played Federer once before, in a Davis Cup tie against Switzerland on indoor clay in Bucharest in 2004. Federer won, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1. "I think he has improved since then," Federer said.

A highlight of the day was the completion of a third-round match between Guillermo Canas, the Argentinian ninth seed, and Paul-Henri Mathieu, of France, which had been suspended overnight with Canas leading, 6-3, 7-6, 2-2. Mathieu, backed by a partisan crowd fought back to take the third and fourth sets but Canas prevailed in the fifth set to go through, 6-3, 7-6, 2-6, 6-7, 8-6.

Whichever way you looked at it, Kim Clijsters, ranked 17th, was a strong favourite to defeat Lindsay Davenport, the world No 1, for a place in women's singles quarter-finals.

The Belgian had won on their previous six meetings and had progressed to the fourth round without dropping a set. The American, competing in her first clay-court event of the year, had been stretched to three sets in each of the first three rounds.

Moreover, with Clijsters leading, 6-1, 3-1, the outcome did not seem to be in doubt ­ except in the minds of the two players. The result? Davenport won, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, advancing to play Mary Pierce in the last eight.

The number of the day was 11. Clijsters made 11 double-faults ­ five in the final set ­ and Pierce needed 11 match points to overcome the eight-seeded Patty Schnyder,of Switzerland, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4, after two hours.

Pierce, the 2000 champion, almost reduced the spectators to tears ­ of laughter. As she struggled to put the match away she was warned for time-wasting between match points. Afterwards, Pierce said: "Anything more than two match points is too many."

At least Pierce eventually gave the French followers a sense of relief after the latest nerve-wracked display by Amélie Mauresmo, who was defeated in the third round on Saturday by the 17-year-old Ana Ivanovic, of Serbia, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Sesil Karatantcheva, the confident 15-year-old Bulgarian who made the most of Venus Williams' errors on Friday, advanced to the quarter-finals, beating Emmanuelle Gagliardi, of Switzerland, 7-5, 6-3.

Karatantcheva will play Elena Likhovtseva, of Russia, who defeated her compatriot Elena Dementieva 7-6, 5-7, 7-5.