PARIS -- Pete Sampras survived the inquisition and the two-sets-to-none scare Jim Courier supplied, but his counterpart at the head of the women's draw, the three-time champion Monica Seles, did the unthinkable and lost because she played scared.
Back in Paris for the French Open, which she ruled from 1990 to '92, for the first time since she was stabbed by a deranged German in April 1993, Seles had reverted to her customary invincibility until yesterday. And her sudden vulnerability took her completely by surprise.
"That shouldn't have been the way I should have gone out today on the court," said Seles. She brought her 25-0 undefeated streak at the French to an end by crumbling, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, against 10th-seeded Jana Novotna, a player renowned for her own anxiety attacks on court. Novotna hadn't beaten her since Seles was a 15-year-old tour rookie in 1989.
In the semifinal round, Novotna will play last year's runner-up, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who squeaked through a 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 10-8 quarterfinal against 26th-ranked Karina Habsudova of Slovakia. The defending champion, Steffi Graf, had little trouble with fifth seed Iva Majoli, who bowed in 53 minutes, 6-3, 6-1. In the semifinals, Graf, a four-time champion, will face third seed Conchita Martinez, who routed Lindsay Davenport, 6-1, 6-3.
Seles, who never had lost a quarterfinal in Paris, pronounced herself "disappointed" and sounded dumbfounded by her lack of competitiveness.
"It's not so much that I lost, it's more I felt I played really defensive, which is not my style of game," she said.
"My returns were nowhere, and my serve was not where it should have been," said Seles, who spared herself no criticism but refused to attribute the loss to her sore serving shoulder.
Sampras and Courier pounded each other for 3 hours, 31 minutes before Sampras, who never faced a match point but coped with 29 aces from Courier, extricated himself from trouble with a 6-7 (4-7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 comeback.
"Now I believe I can win," said Sampras, who will face Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia in the semifinal round tomorrow. Kafelnikov beat Richard Krajicek, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.
Men's singles, quarterfinals
Yevgeny Kafelnikov (6), Russia, def. Richard Krajicek (13), Netherlands, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2. Pete Sampras (1), Tampa, Fla., def. Jim Courier (7), Miami, 6-7 (4-7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Guy Forget, France, and Jakob Hlasek, Switzerland (5), def. Javier Frana, Argentina, and Rick Leach, Laguna Beach, Calif., 6-2, 6-2. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, Australia (1), def. Jonas Bjorkman and Nicklas Kulti, Sweden (9), 6-4, 6-1. Jared Palmer, Tampa, Fla., and Jonathan Stark, Seattle, def. Libor Pimek, Belgium, and Byron Talbot (11), South Africa, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Women's singles, quarterfinals
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (4), Spain, def. Karina Habsudova, Slovakia, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 10-8. Jana Novotna (10), Czech Republic, def. Monica Seles (1), Sarasota, Fla., 7-6 (9-7), 6-3. Steffi Graf (1), Germany, def. Iva Majoli (5), Croatia, 6-3, 6-1. Conchita Martinez (3), Spain, def. Lindsay Davenport (9), Murrieta, Calif., 6-1, 6-3.
Pub Date: 6/05/96