Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

With Easy Wins, Top Seeds Plant Footholds in the Quarterfinals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

With Easy Wins, Top Seeds Plant Footholds in the Quarterfinals

Article excerpt

Pete Sampras won quickly for a change. Monica Seles put aside memories of her 1993 stabbing. Steffi Graf extended her mastery over Mary Joe Fernandez.

The top seeds all enjoyed straight-set victories Sunday to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open on a gray, wet day at Roland Garros.

Sampras passed another key test in his bid for his first French Open title by outplaying talented Australian Scott Draper 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

"It was a bit of up-and-down tennis," Sampras said. "It was very cold, very heavy, which isn't great for my game."

Draper, who reached the fourth round here last year, kept close with Sampras for the first two sets. But his game seemed to evaporate after he failed to convert two break points at 5-5 in the second.

"That was my chance," Draper said. "I didn't capitalize on it."

Best of all for Sampras, the match was over in 1 hour 51 minutes. In his first three matches, Sampras played 13 sets over 8 hours 22 minutes - including five-setters against Sergi Bruguera and Todd Martin.

"My body is a little bit tired, a little bit sore," Sampras said. "It's good to win in three sets. Being out there for three or three-and-a-half hours wears you down. To go out and get it done reasonably quickly, it just helps you out in the long run."

It's the fourth time Sampras has reached the quarterfinals in Paris. His next opponent will be seventh-seeded Jim Courier, the former two-time champion who downed No. 10 Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

In their only previous meeting on clay, Courier beat Sampras in the French Open quarterfinals two years ago.

"I've got my work cut out for me," Sampras said. "It's certainly going to be a battle."

Seles, who shares the women's top seeding with Graf, needed only 52 minutes to post a 6-1, 6-1 victory over 13th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva - her opponent on the day she was knifed during a changeover in Hamburg, Germany, three years ago.

"I was pretty nervous this morning," Seles said. "I was a little bit edgy in practice before the match. On the changeover, it was really tough. I said to myself, `Just keep going and keep not thinking about it, it's just another tennis match. …

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