Seles beats battling Rubin

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The Independent Online

Sixth-seeded Monica Seles fought off Chanda Rubin to lead a parade of favourites into the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships on Friday.

Sixth-seeded Monica Seles fought off Chanda Rubin to lead a parade of favourites into the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships on Friday.

Seles had the hardest time before beating Chanda Rubin 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

In other early matches on Friday, top-seeded Martina Hingis beat Tathiana Garbin of Italy 6-1, 6-0; No. 11 Sandrine Testud crushed Kristie Boogert of the Netherlands 6-0, 6-1; No. 15 Jennifer Capriati ousted Adriana Gersi of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3; No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat downed Janet Lee of Taiwan 6-3, 6-2; and No. 9 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario bested Allison Bradshaw of San Diego 7-6 (2), 6-0.

The men are a round behind. But like the women, Friday's early matches were devoid of upsets.

No. 8 Alex Corretja, of Spain, beat Marc Rosset of Switzerland 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3; No. 14 Nicolas Kiefer of Germany defeated Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman 6-1, 6-4, 6-3; and Sjeng Schalken, of the Netherlands, stopped Adrian Voinea of Romania 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

Rubin matched Seles nearly stroke for stroke before Seles pulled off a second-service ace and a sharply angled forehand to win.

Seles had trouble finding her game, although she won the opening set by breaking Rubin's serve in the final game. Rubin, who once was ranked sixth in the world before a wrist injury sidelined her, returned the favor in the final game of the second set.

In the third set, the two had trouble holding serve. After trading breaks in the fifth and sixth games, the latter at love, Seles broke Rubin once again at love to take a 4-3 lead. It was all she needed, even though Rubin kept up the pressure.

At 15-15 in the final game of the match, Rubin slammed an overhead long. On the next point, Seles swung a second-service ace wide to give her double match point. She quickly took care of that when she took a short ball and rocketed it crosscourt, watching it land on the sideline.

"I wasn't playing as well," Seles said. "I told myself, 'Try to stay in there and hopefully things will change.' I wanted to keep fighting and not give up."

Andre Agassi's bid for a second straight U.S. Open title ended Thursday night.

"It was just a brutal day," he said after falling in the second round to Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

"I tried to figure out how to get to him, but I couldn't do it," said Agassi, who ended his summer of sadness with his earliest departure from America's premier tennis event since dropping a first-round match in 1993. "I just got outplayed."

In 1999, Agassi was magnificent, and when he won the Australian Open this past January, it meant he had reached the title match in four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, the first man to accomplish that since Rod Laver in 1969.

Since Australia, however, Agassi has traveled a rocky road, failing to win a title on the ATP Tour, falling in the second round in the French and losing in the semifinals at Wimbledon. Then he hurt his back in a car accident and learned his mother and sister had breast cancer.

Agassi wasn't alone on the sidelines.

Hyung-Taik Lee of Korea, a qualifier, beat No. 13 Franco Squillari of Argentina, Jerome Golmard of France ousted No. 16 Nicolas Lapentti 7-6 (3), 6-0, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), and in a women's second-round match, Lilia Osterloh of Canal Winchester, Ohio, advanced when No. 14 Dominique Van Roost retired while tied 7-6 (7), 4-6.

Seeded men moving into the third round were No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Russia, No. 7 Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, No. 9 Lleyton Hewitt, Australia, and No. 11 Tim Henman, Britain.

Advancing in the women's singles were No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, United States, No. 4 Mary Pierce, France, No. 5 Serena Williams, United States, No. 7 Conchita Martinez, Spain, No. 10 Anke Huber, Germany, and No. 12 Anna Kournikova, Russia.

"It's unbelievable," Clement said of his win, "because it's on an unbelievable court. Maybe, I don't know, it was not full, maybe 15,000 persons. Everybody is for him.

"To beat him in a Grand Slam, it's another thing. It's different I think to beat him in a small tournament than in a Grand Slam. It's my best victory of my career."