PARIS -- The last time Monica Seles faced Magdalena Maleeva on red clay on a dank, dark day like this one, they were in Hamburg, Germany, on April 30, 1993. So was Guenther Parche, a deranged fan of Steffi Graf's, who, during a second-set changeover, yanked out a kitchen knife and stabbed Seles in the back.
The attack prevented Seles from attempting to win a fourth consecutive French Open title. The trauma kept her away from tennis for more than two years.
Finally reunited yesterday with Roland Garros, where she won the tournament three times from 1990 to '92, Seles let nothing distract her from her objective -- a 10th Grand Slam crown. She completed a 6-1, 6-1 demolition of the 13th-seeded Maleeva to move within three victories of that goal, and next faces 10th-seeded Jana Novotna in the quarterfinals.
Seles said her composure cracked only slightly, during visits to her well-guarded changeover chair.
"In the changeovers it was tough, but I knew that coming into the match because of the reasons," she said, unwilling to make a direct reference to the stabbing. "I was pretty nervous this morning, and I was a little bit edgy in practice before the match, but when I went out there I stayed focused."
Maleeva admitted she is intimidated by Seles' game.
"When Monica Seles needs to, she will rise to the occasion," Maleeva said. "You have to really play out of your mind to beat her."
Sixth-seeded Anke Huber did play out of her mind, but in the wrong way, and her histrionics cost her the quarterfinals. Infuriated by a pair of overrules as she served for the opening set at 5-4 against 26th-ranked Karina Habsudova of Slovakia, Huber double-faulted at break point. Habsudova, who defeated Huber in straight sets last month in Berlin, broke her again to claim the set, and went on to a 7-5, 6-3 victory.
"I have no explanation for it, actually," the German said of the loss that sent Habsudova into the quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
Graf, the defending champion, didn't miss an opportunity to reach her 11th consecutive French Open quarterfinal. She got there by posting her 15th consecutive victory over Mary Joe Fernandez, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7).
In the quarterfinals tomorrow, Graf faces fifth-seeded Iva Majoli. Ninth-seeded Lindsay Davenport, who beat seventh-seeded Kimiko Date, likely will play third-seeded Conchita Martinez, who was leading Amanda Coetzer, 6-2, 4-1, when play was suspended.
On the men's side, top-seeded Pete Sampras reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory over 99th-ranked Scott Draper of Australia. It will be the fourth French Open quarterfinal for Sampras, who has been a champion at the three other Grand Slam events but has never gotten past the quarters here.
But Sampras' next opponent has. Jim Courier, a two-time champion, reached his fifth French Open quarterfinal by ousting ninth-seeded Wayne Ferreira, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. Sixth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 13 Richard Krajicek drew the other quarterfinal assignments decided yesterday.
Men singles, fourth round
Richard Krajicek (13), Netherlands, def. Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Jim Courier (7), Miami, def. Wayne Ferreira (10), South Africa, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (6), Russia, def. Francisco Clavet, Spain, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Pete Sampras (1), Tampa, Fla., def. Scott Draper, Australia, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
Women singles, fourth round
Monica Seles (1), Sarasota, Fla., def. Magdalena Maleeva (13), Bulgaria, 6-1, 6-1. Jana Novotna (10), Czech Republic, def. Irina Spirlea, Romania, 6-1, 7-5. Steffi Graf (1), Germany, def. Mary Joe Fernandez (11), Key Biscayne, Fla., 6-1, 7-6 (9-7). Karina Habsudova, Slovakia, def. Anke Huber (6), Germany, 7-5, 6-3. Iva Majoli (5), Croatia, def. Gala Leon Garcia, Spain, 6-3, 6-1. Lindsay Davenport (9), Murrieta, Calif., def. Kimiko Date (7), Japan, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (4), Spain, def. Barbara Rittner, Germany, 6-3, 6-4. Conchita Martinez (3), Spain, leads Amanda Coetzer (14), South Africa, 6-2, 4-1, susp.
Pub Date: 6/03/96