Yevgeny Kafelnikov scored a victory at the French Open today, despite being bounced from the singles bracket in the second round.
In the complex world of the men's tennis rankings, Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty's 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-7 (8-6), 6-3 quarterfinals victory over Marcelo Rios ensured that Kafelnikov would hold on to the men's No. 1 ranking for at least another week.
Hrbaty was the man who knocked Kafelnikov from the French Open, but his victory today helped the Russian by preventing ninth-seeded Rios from reaching the final here. Rios was not in a position to grab the top spot, but Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten, who was, could only trump Kafelnikov by defeating someone of Rios's ranking in the final. Now that Rios has been eliminated, the eighth-seeded Kuerten cannot secure the top ranking, even if he wins the title here.
While all of that was good news for Kafelnikov, all Hrbaty cared about was his upset of Rios, who had been one of the favorites.
"I beat him the last time we played, so I never lose to him," Hrbaty said. "I was confident. If you beat somebody once, you can beat him a second time."
Hrbaty almost won the match in straight sets, taking Rios to a third-set tiebreaker and fighting off four set points, but he could not close out the victory. That left Rios with some momentum -- he had defeated Alberto Berasategui in five sets Sunday after losing the first two sets -- but the Chilean could not repeat the feat, falling off sharply against Hrbaty in the fourth set.
"I think with my shots and all that, every time I missed, he beat me," Rios said. "The only thing he does is hit hard."
Hingis Quells Qualifier
Venus Williams may have been surprised by qualifier Barbara Schwartz, who upset the No. 5 seed in a come-from-behind victory Sunday, but top-seeded Martina Hingis suffered no such shock in rolling to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Schwartz today.
Schwartz, an Austrian ranked 125th in the world, actually started the match strong, breaking Hingis's first service game, but that was the last advantage she gained. Schwartz was playing her eighth match of the tournament.
"I was serving well in the first set, and that helped me to get some free points and then just figure out what works," Hingis said. "I anticipated better toward the middle of the first set and just made her a little bit nervous."
After defeating Austrian Sylvia Plischke, 6-2, 6-4, to advance to the semifinals, defending champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain credited her brother, Emilio, for her success.
"It's been very good for me since I started working with Emilio," she said. "He's definitely the person who knows me the best, on the court and off the court. We've been working very hard. I think slowly we've been improving. He's been there when I've needed him, not just in the good times but in the worst times, too." . . .
While some of the players have been enjoying Paris, others are having a more difficult time.
Monica Seles wanted to go to the Louvre, but the museum is closed because of a strike. Hrbaty said he has had so little time to relax that the only way he knew he was in Paris was that the Eiffel Tower was visible from a window in the restaurant he ate in the other day. "I see only the hotel and the court," he said.