PARIS - Lindsay Davenport's eyes got wide, possibly wider than they were an hour earlier, when heavily favored Kim Clijsters slapped her 41st unforced error to end their match and reinforce Davenport's reputation as the Secretariat of Roland Garros.
She had just been asked in an interview what it would mean to add a French Open title to her championships at the other three majors, giving her the same Slam sweep Andre Agassi achieved here in 1999.
"You're way too far ahead," she said yesterday, half gasping and then laughing at what surely must seem an impossibility to her.
Davenport would be the first to tell you she's no clay-courter. But, after coming from behind for the third time in four matches, reminding some of the famous slow-starting racehorse, she's in the quarterfinals and entertaining the idea of going farther.
"Just really a little bit amazed I was able to pull that match out, considering how badly I was losing," she said of this 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 triumph. At one point, she trailed Clijsters 1-6, 1-3, love-15 and had been outscored 42-29.
And then, Clijsters lost her edge, as players sometimes do when they've won six in a row over an opponent and are racing away with the seventh.
The women were scheduled to play the entire round of 16 yesterday but finished only five of the eight matches, with 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva, who took out Venus Williams two days earlier, reaching the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Emmanuelle Gagliardi.
Mary Pierce had a mild upset of No. 8 Patty Schnyder, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4, but only after squandering 10 match points, and next will play Davenport for a spot in the semifinals. Elena Likhovtseva, seeded 16th, eliminated 2004 runner-up Elena Dementieva, the No. 4 seed, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5. No. 7 Nadia Petrova defeated No. 12 Elena Bovina, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
Maria Sharapova, seeded second, was ahead of unseeded Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-2, 3-3 when play was suspended because of rain. Matches between Francesca Schiavone and Ana Ivanovic, and Justine Henin-Hardenne and Svetlana Kuznetsova never got started.
If this tournament was all about Henin-Hardenne at the beginning of the week, it was all about Davenport and Karatantcheva at week's end.
The Bulgarian teenager, who turns 16 in July, is the sixth- youngest player to reach the quarterfinals here, placing her in the company of Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles and Gabriela Sabatini, who was her childhood idol.
How now does she suppress thoughts of being satisfied just to have gotten to this point? Simple, she replied. "I'm not having those thoughts."
She next plays Likhovtseva, whom she defeated in a hardcourt warm-up to the Australian Open in January.
Davenport, meanwhile, will play Pierce in a battle of two of the WTA Tour's oldest players. Pierce is 30 and Davenport just days away from being 29.
"Mary is going to be trying to take it to me. It's who can get the bigger shot off first," Davenport said. "Hard serves, going for winners."
Pierce is by far a better matchup than the left-handed Schnyder. This match will more resemble the sort of hardcourt blasting that works in Davenport's favor.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.