PARIS, JUNE 2 -- Walking onto center court in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time today, Jennifer Capriati knew she had made the big time. With a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 12th-seeded Judith Weisner at the French Open, the Florida teenager walked off with a spot in the record books.
Capriati, who turned 14 on March 28, became the youngest woman to reach the round of 16 in a Grand Slam tournament. The previous mark was held by American Kathy Rinaldi, who was four days older when she reached the round of 16 here in 1981.
"I couldn't believe they put me on center court," Capriati said. "I was really happy about it. I thought, 'This is where all the great champions have been.' "
Capriati showed she was worthy of the honor, leading a quintet of teenagers into the fourth round.
"She doesn't seem like 14," Wiesner said. "She seems physically grown up. Ability-wise, she's in the top 10."
Wiesner was the first of two seeds eliminated today. Aaron Krickstein, the men's fifth seed, was upset, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), by unseeded Karel Novacek of Czechoslovakia.
Krickstein saved two match points in the 10th game of the fourth set but dropped five straight points in the tiebreaker to lose it, 7-2. That left three Americans in the round of 16: No. 3 Andre Agassi, defending champion and No. 11 Michael Chang and No. 13 Jim Courier.
Capriati, who will reach at least No. 17 in the next world rankings, is just one member of the women's teen brigade charging through this year's field. Also advancing today were Monica Seles, 16; Mary Joe Fernandez, 18, and Natalia Zvereva and Ann Grossman, both 19.
Seles, the second seed, struggled against Leila Meskhi of the Soviet Union and escaped with a 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) victory, her 28th straight.
"I was playing unbelievably the last four or five weeks," Seles said. "I'm not playing well right now and all the others are trying to play better against me. They have nothing to lose."
No. 7 Fernandez beat Isabel Cueto of West Germany, 7-6 ( 7-3), 6-2; No. 10 Zvereva beat Stacey Martin of Kettering, Md., 6-4, 6-1 and the unseeded Grossman beat Kirrily Sharpe of Australia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
Top-seeded Steffi Graf, a veteran at 20, won her third consecutive straight-set match, downing Sandra Cecchini of Italy, 6-2, 6-3. Other women advancing were Mercedes Paz of Argentina, who eliminated defending champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the previous round and next plays Capriati, and No. 6 Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria.
In the men's field, No. 7 Thomas Muster, No. 10 Martin Jaite, No. 14 Magnus Gustafsson and No. 15 Guillermo Perez-Roldan all advanced. Perez-Roldan knocked out Parisian favorite Yannick Noah, the 1983 French Open champion.
It was gray, windy and cool when Capriati and Wiesner came out for the opening match on center court. For a while things looked bleak for Capriati too as she lost her serve in the first game with four errors and soon found herself trailing by 1-3.
"I was a little bit nervous, I have to admit," she said. "I felt a little tight at the beginning."
Nothing to fret about though. With a little bit of luck -- two net-cord winners -- Capriati broke for 3-3.
"I thought I got really lucky on those," she said. "I loosened up a little after that."
After another exchange of breaks, Capriati held to go up, 5-4. She broke Wiesner in the next game to take the set.
Slugging her groundstrokes from side to side and coming to the net for simple putaways, Capriati cruised to a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Wiesner closed to 4-5 and went up, 30-0, on her serve.
"I thought, 'Oh no, don't let her come back. I don't want to go three sets. I want to close it out now,' " Capriati said.
Capriati won the next four points to close out the match.
"She keeps going for every shot," Wiesner said. "There's not one shot she's not hitting. She's really different from other players that way. When I hit hard, she hit harder."