Sampras stays off loser list Kucera extends No. 1

Nos. 12, 14 men fall

June 30, 1996|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England -- No. 10 seed Michael Stich had just advanced to the round of 16 yesterday at Wimbledon when he looked up at the scoreboard and then looked again.

What made him pause was seeing that No. 1 seed Pete Sampras had lost a third-set tiebreaker and was down 4-1 in the fourth to Karol Kucera of Slovakia.

With the way seeds have been disappearing from the tournament in the past week, neither Stich nor anyone else could be sure exactly what was going to happen on Centre Court on this unusually cold, windy day at this most unusual of Wimbledons.

"Everyone who is not a grass-court player seems to have found the secret of Wimbledon," said Stich, who beat Sandon Stolle, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. "They understand it is just a racket, a ball and a man playing, and everyone can win on grass."

At the halfway point, 11 of the top 16 men's seeds and eight of the top 16 women's seeds have been ambushed, one way or another.

Yesterday, No. 11 Wayne Ferreira and No. 14 Marc Rosset joined the departing men. Ferreira lost to Magnus Gustafsson, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 1-6, 5-7, 6-1, and Rosset fell to revitalized Australian Pat Rafter, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Meanwhile, women's No. 5 seed Anke Huber was dispatched, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, by Ai Sugiyama.

So, yesterday, Stich and everyone else wondered just how bizarre Week 1 would end up.

Sampras eventually survived, 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), but it was a fight. No. 4 seed Goran Ivanisevic also advanced with a 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 6-3 victory over Alexander Volkov. So did No. 16 Cedric Pioline, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, over Jan Kroslak.

"It's hard to know what's going on here," said Sampras. "There are all the upsets, [Boris Becker's] freak wrist injury, soccer being so popular pushing Wimbledon into the back seat here. It's weird. But a lot of great players are left and I'm still around, so, hopefully, there is a lot of great tennis yet to play."

Many of those players -- Sampras, Pioline, Stich and Ivanisevic -- are in the top half of the draw.

No. 13 Todd Martin, who won, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2, over Renzo Furlan yesterday, is the only seed left in the bottom half. The last time only one seed remained in the bottom half of the round of 16 was 1981, when No. 2 John McEnroe went on to win his first Wimbledon title.

"I think the All England Club should look at the draw, how it was made this year," said Stich, the 1991 champion. "It's a little bit surprising that all the big servers show up in the top half and all the so-called clay-courters, except Boris, show up in the bottom half.

"I think that shows right now. I mean, Todd is the only seed left down there."

That doesn't bother Martin.

"I don't think the draw can be fixed like that," said Martin. "The game is played many different ways and you have to respect that. Just because [Andre] Agassi doesn't serve as big as Ivanisevic, that's no reason to change his position in the draw.

"The thing you have to remember is that the guys who are playing in the fourth round are playing there because they've played well enough to beat the seeds. They deserve to be there. And I think the new names and the new faces are good for the sport and especially exciting for the players."

One who would agree is Britain's Tim Henman, who has either started or finished a singles match every day the past week.

Yesterday, Henman and countryman Luke Milligan came back to finish the first match between two Englishmen on Centre Court since 1938. Henman was serving with a 5-4 lead in the third set and clinched the 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 decision with a forehand volley.

"I've never gone beyond the second round before and I'm very pleased," Henman said. "When the chances have arisen here, I've been able to take advantage of them, and if I keep concentrating, if I keep setting my goals higher and if I reach them, I might get people dancing in the streets."

Yesterday, he had them doing the wave during his pre-match warm-ups.

Men's singles, third round

Tim Henman, Britain, def. Luke Milligan, Britain, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

Jason Stoltenberg, Australia, def. Mose Navarra, Italy, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

Jakob Hlasek, Switzerland, def. Mikael Tillstrom, Sweden, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Michael Stich (10), Germany, def. Sandon Stolle, Australia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Patrick Rafter, Australia, def. Marc Rosset (14), Switzerland, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Paul Haarhuis, Netherlands, def. Jonathan Stark, Seattle, 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-4.

Todd Martin (13), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., def. Renzo Furlan, Italy, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2.

Pete Sampras (1), Tampa, Fla., def. Karol Kucera, Slovakia, 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3).

Magnus Gustafsson, Sweden, def. Wayne Ferreira (11), South Africa, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 1-6, 5-7, 6-1.

Alexander Radulescu, Germany, def. David Wheaton, Lake Minnetonka, Minn., 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Goran Ivanisevic (4), Croatia, def. Alexander Volkov, Russia, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 6-3.

Richard Krajicek, Netherlands, def. Brett Steven, New Zealand, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-2.

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