Advancing Argentine men sense prospect of conquest

4 remaining in field of 12

No. 5 Davenport defeated

French Open

May 31, 2004|By Charles Bricker | Charles Bricker,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

PARIS - Guillermo Coria, David Nalbandian, Juan Ignacio Chela, Gaston Gaudio.

There was adequate warning before the first ball was struck a week ago that the time had come for the Grand Slam-starved Argentines to overtake the Spanish at the French Open.

It's now close to happening and, though there are still a few matches to reach the final four, it's possible there could be an all-Argentine semifinal with Nalbandian vs. Gaudio in the upper half of the draw and Coria playing Chela in the lower half.

"I hope we have a new record with all of us in the semis," Coria said after he defeated Nicolas Escude of France, 6-0, after Escude retired before the start of the second set with shoulder tendinitis. "I'm not sure the French would like that, but I think it would be quite spectacular."

While the Argentines were settling in for a stretch run in the second week, the tournament was settling down after a glut of upsets in the early days.

The men are down to the 12 competitors with four Argentines and a pair of Spaniards left, and the women are into the quarters with No. 2 Serena Williams, No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo, No. 4 Venus Williams, No. 6 Anastasia Myskina, No. 7 Jennifer Capriati, No. 9 Elena Dementieva and No. 14 Paola Suarez getting through.

There was one marginal upset among the women. Dementieva defeated No. 5 Lindsay Davenport, 6-1, 6-3 - a result that didn't surprise Davenport in the slightest.

There had never been more than three Argentines in the round of 16, going back to the days of Guillermo Vilas and Jose-Luis Clerc, and not since 1977, when Vilas ruled the French, has an Argentine won a Grand Slam.

Now, Coria said, "I think there's a lot of respect for the Argentines on this surface."

Chela ended the fantasy run of France's Olivier Mutis, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2, and will next play Britain's Tim Henman, who for the second time in the tournament came from two sets down to win in five, beating Michael Llodra of France, 6-7 (2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 9-7.

In the process, Henman became the first Briton since Roger Taylor in 1973 to reach the French quarters.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Men's singles

Third round

Xavier Malisse, Belgium, def. Albert Costa (26), Spain, 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 8-6.

Fourth round

Juan Ignacio Chela (22), Argentina, def. Olivier Mutis, France, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Guillermo Coria (3), Argentina, def. Nicolas Escude, France, 6-0, 0-0, retired. Tim Henman (9), Britain, def. Michael Llodra, France, 6-7 (2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 9-7. Carlos Moya (5), Spain, def. Tommy Robredo (17), Spain, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-2.

Women's singles

Fourth round

Elena Dementieva (9), Russia, def. Lindsay Davenport (5), United States, 6-1, 6-3. Maria Sharapova (18), Russia, def. Marlene Weingartner, Germany, 6-3, 6-1. Paola Suarez (14), Argentina, def. Zheng Jie, China, 6-4, 7-5. Amelie Mauresmo (3), France, def. Magdalena Maleeva (21), Bulgaria, 6-2, 6-1. Serena Williams (2), United States, def. Shinobu Asagoe, Japan, 6-3, 6-1.

Anastasia Myskina (6), Russia, def. Svetlana Kuznetsova (11), Russia, 1-6, 6-4, 8-6. Venus Williams (4), United States, def. Fabiola Zuluaga (23), Colombia, 6-1, 7-6 (3). Jennifer Capriati (7), United States, def. Francesca Schiavone (17), Italy, 7-5, 6-1.

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