Woodruff knocks out defending champion

American Chris Woodruff beat the fourth-seed and defending champion Alex Corretja 7-5, 7-6 on Tuesday, to secure his place in the quarter-finals of the Lyon Grand Prix in France.

American Chris Woodruff beat the fourth-seed and defending champion Alex Corretja 7-5, 7-6 on Tuesday, to secure his place in the quarter-finals of the Lyon Grand Prix in France.

Ranked an unthreatening 65th in the world, Woodruff ended the 10th ranked Spaniard's defense of his crown and quest for his first title since triumphing at the World Championships last year in Hannover.

The victory was a big step in Woodruff's comeback from a long injury layoff last year. Woodruff played just one match in 1998 after injuring his knee kicking field goals at an Atlanta high school with compatriot Richey Reneberg.

The American only returned to competition last February and has since been fighting his way back up the rankings, having plunged to an abysmal 1,599 at the start of this year from a career high 29 in 1997. Woodruff, who has three career titles, is seeking his second tournament win this season, having won in Newport in July.

The American, Jim Courier, booked his place in the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over ninth-seeded Mark Philippoussis, who recently returned from injury.

Though the 44th-ranked Courier had not played in a tournament since the US Open - taking a six week rest from the Tour - Philippoussis was feeling the effects of an even longer break.

Pulling up short with torn knee cartilage against Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Philippoussis underwent athroscopic surgery which effectively sidelined him for three and a half months. The Australian made his comeback only last week in Singapore, where went out in second round.

Americans had similar success in first round action, with Jeff Tarango and Jan-Michael Gambill easily brushing aside their opponents in straight sets. Tarango defeated Mark Knowles of the Bahamas 6-4, 6-1 while Gambill trounced Slovakia's Jan Kroslak 6-1, 6-2.

Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands beat Morocco's Hicham Arazi 6-3, 7-6.

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