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Fernandez Is the Last U.S. Woman

By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 1, 1997; Page E6

WIMBLEDON, England, June 30 — Mary Joe Fernandez is carrying the American flag into the fourth round of Wimbledon as the sole American woman — out of an original 20 — to survive three rounds of this tournament.

Fernandez, the No. 11 seed, defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn, 6-2, 6-4, this afternoon to advance to a fourth-round meeting with third-seeded Jana Novotna. A quarterfinalist here last year, Fernandez also had a good showing at the French Open, where she lost in the quarterfinals to Monica Seles.

Seles's third-round loss today left Fernandez the lone American in the women's bracket. It also left top-seeded Martina Hingis an even clearer shot at her first Wimbledon title. With Steffi Graf recuperating from knee surgery and Seles eliminated, Hingis already has avoided her two biggest worries, and with all the upsets in the women's draw, Hingis will have to face at most two seeded players.

"I really don't see that [anyone can beat her] at this point," Seles said. "She probably will have a few losses [this year] to a couple of players that have good chances against her, but on the average, I don't think so."

A Day Late
After a first week devastated by heavy rains, Wimbledon is now one day behind schedule, with plans to catch up in time for the women's semifinals to be played, as usual, Thursday.

The second Monday of the tournament is traditionally the day on which all fourth-round matches are played in both draws, but today Wimbledon officials scheduled the 18 remaining third-round matches and a heavy dose of doubles, which is much farther behind. Weather permitting, fourth-round matches will be played Tuesday, and the quarterfinals on Wednesday. That would put the tournament back on schedule, but it will require the successful women to play a minimum of three consecutive days. The men will have Thursday off.

The combination of the bad weather and resulting heavy match schedule has taken its toll on Centre Court, which is looking less like a patch of nice green grass and more like a mud pit. When Pete Sampras — who played his first two matches on Court 1 — went out to play Byron Black this afternoon, he was shocked.

"It was very chewed up," Sampras said. "I couldn't believe in the warm-up, I mean, the middle of the court, there was no grass. Compared to the other courts — I've never seen Centre Court so chopped up."

A Weighty Topic
The "fitness" of several women's players has been a chief topic of conversation and Hingis and Seles have fielded endless — and often rude — questions about their weight. Today, a little more heat was lent to the subject by the most unlikely of sources — Novotna, one of the most physically fit women in the draw.

"When I look around the locker room, at what I see, that they really don't have that," Novotna said of her competition. Asked to elaborate on that topic, she added this:

"I wasn't really talking about if they're fit or they're not fit — I can't really tell that. But just from looking around, to see what people eat, or players eat, and how they take care of themselves, I don't think they're doing it in a professional way." ... Quote of the day: Asked if she had a secret to the recent improvement in her fitness, France's Sandrine Testud, who upset Seles, had a quick — and perfectly French — answer:

"Yeah," she said. "Love."

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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