Sampras shakes off Kucera, but injury may have foothold

Six-time champ gets treatment, MRI after four-set victory

June 29, 2000|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England - Left ankle wrapped in tape, shoulders slumped in despair, Pete Sampras was struggling to hold on to Wimbledon yesterday.

The six-time champion sought to shake off apparent pain and a bad case of the Karol Kucera blues. Everywhere Sampras looked on Centre Court in the gathering darkness, there was Kucera, refusing to go away quietly.

Sampras eventually launched one last big serve to survive and win, 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

But at what cost?

That was the question that loomed over Wimbledon as Sampras left the grounds for treatment of an inflamed left foot. He underwent an MRI and his condition was to be re-evaluated early today, according to tournament officials.

Sampras, whose left foot and ankle were taped by a trainer at 5-2 in the third set, declined to make any comment.

It was a troubling finish to a weird day, as Wimbledon descended into the Twilight Zone.

The top half of the men's draw was laid to waste, with only two surviving seeds, No. 1 Sampras and No. 9 Thomas Enqvist, who defeated Francisco Clavet, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.

The normally mild-mannered Wayne Ferreira lost his cool and snapped his racket but kayoed 1996 champion and No. 11 seed Richard Krajicek, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

Serving at a set point down, Ferreira was flustered in the opening set after chair umpire Kim Craven overruled a line judge and called his serve out. After losing the point - and set - Ferreira tossed his racket, and then broke it in half against a chair.

"It kind of scared me a little bit more than anything else because I had no intentions of doing that," Ferreira said.

Magnus Norman, the French Open finalist and No. 3 seed, fell to a Belgian qualifier named Olivier Rochus, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4-6), 6-1. Things got so bad for Norman in the last set, he handed his racket to a ball girl and let her rally with Rochus.

"I was playing so poorly, so, I thought, `Hey, she's going to do better than me.' She actually did," Norman said.

Longtime Wimbledon "bad boy" Jeff Tarango, who was defaulted out of the tournament in 1996 after a dispute with a chair umpire, even got into the weird mix.

After losing to fellow Stanford alum Paul Goldstein, 3-6, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 12-10, Tarango refused to shake hands with his rival.

Tarango was booed off the court, a rare Wimbledon occurrence.

Tarango said he was upset that late in the match he was forced to hold off serving because Goldstein called for a trainer on two occasions.

"Of course, he was faking the injury," Tarango said.

"Gamesmanship or not, I just thought it was bush league," Tarango added. "I didn't think it was cool. He played a good match, but he's got to earn my respect in different ways."

Goldstein, a resident of Rockville, Md., said: "The last thing on my mind is trying to do anything in any way unethical or unsportsmanlike."

He said he was "startled" when Tarango refused to shake his hand.`To have that kind of ... anger burns me out a little," he said. "I certainly would have preferred it if we would have shook hands and said, `Gee, that was a battle. Let's have a beer tonight, it's on me.' "

In the women's draw, the big shock came when Canada's Sonya Jeyaseelan played fearlessly to defeat No. 4 seed and 1994 champion Conchita Martinez, 6-4, 6-1.

The Williams sisters continued their impressive climb into the third round.

Fifth-seeded Venus Williams defeated Ai Sugiyama, 6-1, 6-4, while No. 8 Serena Williams routed Yvette Basting, 6-1, 6-0.

The sisters were then asked to remark on comments attributed to John McEnroe, who said they needed lessons in humility.

Venus Williams said she and her sister "are very polite because that's the way our parents taught us."

But she added, "I believe also that most of the time when Serena and I lose a match it's because we beat ourselves, not because the other player beat us."

Serena Williams said: "I don't recall too many times where I say too many negative things. Maybe I do. I'm just not aware of it."

Unseeded Anna Kournikova was ousted by Anne-Gaelle Sidot, 6-3, 6-4.

"I didn't quite attack the second serve," Kournikova said. "I think I could have done more."

She'll stick around Wimbledon to play doubles and mixed doubles.

No. 1 seed Martina Hingis, who may have to play both Williams sisters to win the title, defeated Jing-Qian Yi, 6-4, 6-1.

Hingis said she takes nothing for granted in a Grand Slam, even when facing an overwhelmed opponent.

"They have nothing to lose, basically, these girls which play me," she said.

Feature matches

(Seeds in parentheses) Today's men's singles

Andre Agassi (2) vs. Todd Martin

Gustavo Kuerten (4) vs. Justin Bower

Yevgeny Kafelnikov (5) vs. Thomas Johansson

Tim Henman (8) vs. Arnaud Clement

Mark Philippoussis (10) vs. Arnaud Di Pasquale

Patrick Rafter (12) vs. Todd Woodbridge

Marat Safin (15) vs. Martin Damm

Today's women's singles

Lindsay Davenport (2) vs. Elena Likhovtseva

Mary Pierce (3) vs. Magui Serna

Monica Seles (6) vs. Els Callens

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (9) vs. Rita Grande

Amanda Coetzer (12) vs. Lilia Osterloh

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