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Kuerten, Corretja Both Upset


In a day of upsets at the French Open, Gustavo Kuerten's dazzling clay-court game turned flat and an ailing Alex Corretja's game simply fell apart.

And that left Andre Agassi the only seeded player remaining in the men's draw.

Kuerten, the 1997 champion and a favorite for the title, was ousted 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 today by Andrei Medvedev, the 100th-ranked player who knocked out Pete Sampras in the second round.

Facing Medvedev in the semifinals will be Kuerten's fellow Brazilian, Fernando Meligeni, who routed a sluggish Corretja 6-2, 6-2, 6-0.

In the other semifinal Friday, Agassi, seeded 13th, will face the Dominik Hrbaty, the 21-year-old Slovakian who already has knocked off Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marcelo Rios.

Corretja, seeded sixth and a finalist last year at the French, said he was weakened by an allergic reaction that began Sunday and he doesn't know what triggered it.

"I was feeling dead on the court," Corretja said. "I couldn't move my legs. It's like I was carrying 100 kilos on each leg."

Fernando Meligeni ousts sixth-seeded Alex Corretja in straight sets Wednesday.
Fernando Meligeni ousts sixth-seeded Alex Corretja in straight sets Wednesday. (AP)

Ask why he didn't quit, he said: "You want to stay on court, you want to be professional, you want to give credit to Meligeni."

Corretja said he has a history of allergies.

"I thought I had it under control. Since two years ago I didn't have that reaction," he said.

"It's difficult to exactly know, when you have so many allergies to many things, it's never easy to find out what's going to come."

Corretja was beaten by the wiry Brazilian from every part of the court.

"It's incredible," said Meligeni, ranked 54th. "It's not a normal score. I didn't expect this, for sure."

The tally of unforced errors told the story: 49 for Corretja, 20 for the Brazilian.

Meligeni kept breaking Corretja, and by the final set the Spaniard had nothing left.

Minutes earlier, as Kuerten's girlfriend sobbed in the stands, Medvedev told French television he feels like "the happiest man in the world right now."

Kuerten, seeded eighth, said he "couldn't feel my way."

"It was a big match and a great moment, but I couldn't do it," he said. Medvedev, he added, "didn't give me too much opportunity to get my pace."

Throughout the match, Kuerten gestured and talked to himself, trying to get himself moving, but to no avail. The stadium was less than two-thirds full rare for a major match because of a transit strike paralyzing Paris.

Medvedev served well and ade devastating use of his drop shot to extend his excellent run at Roland Garros.

Kuerten has been having the best clay-court season of anyone, but against Medvedev he faced a vastly improved player who grew up on clay.

Medvedev ranked as high as No. 4 five years ago. He then tumbled to No. 100 after being sidelined with a wrist injury.

He needed four match points to close the match doing it, fittingly, with an unreachable drop shot.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Medvedev reached 40-15 with a ripping backhand down the line. But the Ukrainian failed to convert on his two match points. He reached his third match point with a drop shot, only to double fault.

Medvedev saved a break point and then won the next three to complete his victory.

Afterward, Medvedev spoke of his renewed relationship with German player Anke Huber.

"I feel peace on the court because I know there's someone there for me," he said. "You can say I fell back in love twice, once with tennis, once with a girl."

In the first set, the turning point came at 5-5, when Medvedev broke Kuerten. Serving for the set at 6-5, he closed it with a forehand drop shot.

Medvedev won the second set with a service game at love. In the final set, Medvedev broke for a 1-0 lead. Kuerten broke back but the Ukrainian broke again, and remained a break up until the end.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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