2nd-seeded Sampras falls in French Open 1st round FRENCH OPEN


PARIS -- Pete Sampras' vintage year, 1994, slipped a little deeper in the memory morgue yesterday, rapidly being replaced by a season of joyless tennis.

Grim and beaten, he confronted the reality of his failure at the French Open, unable to find an answer for his demise.

"This loss is probably going to sit with me for quite a while," he said after a 4-hour and 4-minute, five-set marathon with Gilbert Schaller of Austria. The score: 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4.

Knocked out in the first round of a Grand Slam.

Sampras sat at an interview table, disbelieving. He hadn't been erased this fast at a Slam event since 1990.

"One of my major goals was to play well here and hopefully win. I changed my whole schedule to play more on clay and to improve my clay-court game. And to come up against a tough opponent in the first round was tough," Sampras said, "I had my chances. I just came up a little bit short. That is the way my whole clay court season kind of went."

Sampras, the second seed here, has lost in the first round in four of five clay-court tournaments this year.

He had trained demonically for this tournament, the only Grand Slam he has not won. He demanded victory of himself on the red clay because, despite all his other successes, he wants to be remembered as an all-court champion.

Few expected Sampras to win the French. His failure on clay included losses to Oliver Gross and Fabrice Santoro, a couple of non-factors on the ATP Tour. And there was his yearlong rival, Andre Agassi, plus Thomas Muster and two-time defending champion Sergi Bruguera in his way.

But this was the third year in which he committed himself to mastering the powdery dirt courts of Roland Garros.

He wasn't the only seed to fall.

No. 15 Richard Krajicek was beaten by hard-hitting Australian teen-ager Andrew Ilie, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

On the women's side, sixth-seeded Magdalena Maleeva went down to Nathalie Tauziat, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Seven seeded men won, including No. 1 Agassi, who ended Todd Woodbridge's career-best win streak at six. He was joined in the third round by No. 5 Muster, who beat Cedric Pioline for his 30th straight clay win; No. 8 Wayne Ferreira, who defeated Mats Wilander; No. 9 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who topped Magnus Gustafsson; No. 11 Alberto Berasategui, who went five sets to take out Marcelo Rios; and No. 13 Jim Courier, a winner over Kenneth Carlsen. Tenth-seeded Magnus Larsson beat Jordi Arrese to go into the second round.

On the women's side, No. 2 Steffi Graf defeated Petra Begerow to make the third round and was joined by No. 4 Conchita Martinez, who beat Miriam Oremans for her 23rd consecutive clay win; No. 8 Gabriela Sabatini, a winner over Amanda Coetzer; No. 11 Anke Huber, who defeated Brenda Schultz; and No. 16 Naoko Sawamatsu, who got by Nancy Feber.

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