Friday, August 13, 1999

ATP quarters star-studded


Top 7 seeds, 2-time champ go at it today

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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No. 1 Pete Sampras must face nemesis Richard Krajicek.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        MASON — This is, so far, the greatest Great American Insurance ATP Championship of all.

        Today's quarterfinals include the tournament's top seven seeds plus the winningest active player in the event's history.

        This is the first ATP Tour event at which all top seven seeds have advanced to the final eight since the duMaurier Open in Toronto last August.

        It is also the first tournament to have six top-10 players in the quarterfinals since two years ago in Cincinnati.

        Pick your storyline. They're all good ones:

        • Unseeded Michael Chang, 38-9 in the ATP, is making a run on courts that have been kind to him over the years. Now ranked No. 58, Chang is a two-time winner and two-time finalist here. He faces defending champion and fourth-ranked Patrick Rafter (7 p.m.).

        • Top-ranked Pete Sampras, the No. 1 seed, puts a 19-match winning streak on the line against Richard Krajicek (1 p.m.), who has beaten Sampras four straight times.

        • Popular Andre Agassi, the No. 3 seed, faces sixth-seeded Gustavo Kuerten (3 p.m.). They are Nos. 1 and 2 on the ATP Tour money list.

        Said Agassi: “He's obviously played well this year on many different surfaces. He's going to present a lot of prob lems, no question.”

        • Fourth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 5 seed Tim Henman play in the other quarterfinal (11 a.m.).

        Kafelnikov has won nine of his last 11 matches and returns to No.1 in the world if he wins the title here.

        In the history of the Western Tennis Championships and the ATP Championship, dating to 1969, the top seven seeds never have made it to the quarterfinals in the same year.

        “Every time you go through this, you wonder who's going to end up in the final eight, and to have it come out this way is really fantastic,” tournament chairman Paul Flory said. “The chances of this are so unbelievably remote.”

        Chang is happy to find himself in such elite company.

        “There were times where I felt I was on my way back in particular matches, and it just didn't hold true,” he said. “We'll take things step by step, little by little.”

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