Steffi Graf staged a comeback at Wimbledon today to avoid the fate that befell Martina Hingis a day earlier. Pete Sampras had a far easier time.
Graf, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, rallied past pesky Mariaan de Swardt 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and advanced to the third round.
Sampras, again looking almost invincible on grass, swept past Sebastien Lareau 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
With Graf coming off her French Open victory earlier this month, de Swardt appeared unlikely to mount a challenge. The stocky South African, ranked 38th, lost 10 of her first 12 matches in 1999 and has just one tournament title in 13 years on the WTA Tour.
But Graf brings out the best in de Swardt. They had met twice previously, with Graf surviving a tough three-setter at Wimbledon in 1992, and de Swardt winning in 1995 at Brighton when Graf was ranked No. 1.
De Swardt played almost flawless tennis in the first set, serving at up to 116 mph and repeatedly winning points with acrobatic shots at the net.
"I was wondering a little bit out there," Graf said. "When I saw on the machine that she served 116, my eyes rolled. I couldn't believe it."
But de Swardt double-faulted twice to lose her serve in the first game of the final set, and Graf pulled away from there.
"Experience helps a lot, and concentrating on what you know you can do," Graf said. "You try to hang in there. The way she started the match, if she had continued like that, there would have been very little I could do."
A men's highlight was a duel between former French Open champions, with Jim Courier outlasting No. 12 Carlos Moya 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6-2. Courier advanced beyond the second round at Wimbledon for the first time since 1993, when he lost in the final to Sampras.
Moya, who has still never reached the third round in four tries at Wimbledon, was the first seeded man to lose. Fellow Spaniard Felix Mantilla, seeded 16th, was later eliminated y American Paul Goldstein, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2.
Tommy Haas, seeded 14th, completed a victory Wednesday over Peter Wessels, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The match was suspended because of darkness after four sets Tuesday.
Australian Mark Philippoussis, seeded seventh, slammed 38 aces and edged countryman Mark Woodforde 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. There were no service breaks until the final set.
French Open runnerup Andrei Medvedev was eliminated in the second round by Daniel Nestor, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.
In other women's play, Anna Kournikova overcame three set points in the first set and beating Maria Alejandra Vento 7-5, 6-4.
As usual, the photogenic Kournikova attracted a horde of zoom lenses for her match on Court 2. After her narrow escape at 4-5, 0-40 in the first set, she raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set.
Kournikova, seeded 17th, is one victory away from a potential fourth-round match against Venus Williams. The sixth-seeded Williams beat Elena Tatarkova 6-3, 6-4.
Unseeded Jennifer Capriati, once a subject of media hype herself, quietly lost to Seda Noorlander 6-1, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded Monica Seles scored a double bagel, beating Marlene Weingartner 6-0, 6-0 in 35 minutes. No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, runnerup last year to Jana Novotna, eliminated Amanda Hopmans 6-3, 6-4.
No. 12 Amanda Coetzer advanced by beating Miho Saeki 6-4, 6-1, and No. 13 Sandrine Testud defeated Barbara Rittner 7-6 (7-2), 6-1.
Kournikova's postmatch news conference included a series of questions from the British press concerning her personal life. The 18-year-old Russian refused to discuss her relationship with hockey star Sergei Federov or comment on a photo published this week in a London tabloid that showed her wearing a diamond ring on her left hand.
As for the media scrutiny, she smiled and said: "If I would be bothered by it, that would not be good for me. I would get nervous, or whatever. I have to be cool about it."
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