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 Top seed Pete Sampras was pushed to four sets by Paul Goldstein.

U.S. Open Section

Tennis Section

  Rosset Had Reservation for Swissair Flight 111

By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 4, 1998; Page C1

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 – Marc Rosset, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist and Switzerland's top male player, was scheduled to fly home to Switzerland on Wednesday night, two days after he lost his first-round match here. Rosset changed his mind, and his flight, on Tuesday. The decision saved his life.

Eager to get more practice time with top players here, Rosset canceled his reservation on Swissair Flight 111 from New York's Kennedy International Airport to Geneva, only to hear from friends late Wednesday night that the plane had crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia, killing all 229 people aboard.

"It was a strange feeling when you realize that for just changing your mind, you are still alive," a still shaken Rosset said this afternoon.

"Sometimes, you just wake up and decide, 'Okay, I leave tomorrow instead of today,' and you don't know why, and a couple days later, you realize you changed your life."

Immediately upon hearing of the crash, Rosset called his parents, who had been frantic when they heard the news in Switzerland.

"We trembled for an hour and a half," Michel Rosset, Marc's father, told a newspaper in Geneva. After the phone call, Marc Rosset said he sat in his Manhattan hotel room, mesmerized by the television coverage of the crash site until nearly 5 a.m. He canceled his new reservation for a flight to Switzerland this evening.

"When you are pretty close, then maybe you realize something," said Rosset, who expressed concern and support for the families of the victims.

"Maybe I am going to try to enjoy more my life, every day, and it is maybe going to be a benefit for myself."

The story quickly made the rounds in the players' lounge and locker rooms, and many players recalled a similar tale of good luck from more than a decade ago.

In 1986 Derrick Rostagno was on his way home from Mexico, where he had won a satellite tournament, and was supposed to connect to Los Angeles in Mexico City.

Instead, he got off the plane in Mexico City and chose to stay and play another tournament on the circuit. The continuation of his flight crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.

Patching Things Up

Venus Williams decided to put her own end to the controversy generated by her failure to wear the Corel Women's Tennis Association Tour patch on her tennis outfit Tuesday.

Today, Williams slapped a patch on the shoulder strap of her new lime green dress, went out and crushed second-round opponent Anne Kremer, 6-1, 6-3, then announced that she had not been sending any message by failing to wear the patch in her first-round match.

"It just seems I'm always in the middle of controversy, so it is nothing new from me," Williams said. "I am really separate from those type of things. Generally, I do my practicing and I play tennis. I think you have to talk to Reebok."

This controversy clearly was not of Williams's making. Reebok, her clothing sponsor, did not want her to wear the patch, which does not appear on the tennis clothes of rival Nike.

And Venus's father, Richard Williams – who has since left New York because of an illness – endorsed the decision. Venus, however, apparently did not.

"Generally, I always wear the patch," Williams said today. "I wasn't sending any message."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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