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Top-Seeded Gilbert Falls to Mancini in Italian 3rd Round

From Associated Press

Defending champion Alberto Mancini ousted top seed Brad Gilbert 6-2, 6-1 in the third round of the Italian Open today.

“I played a great match today,” said Mancini, the tournament’s 16th seed. “I returned service well, and my passing shots were sharp. And Gilbert’s baseline shots are a little less effective on clay than they are on a faster surface.”

“Naturally I’m disappointed,” Gilbert said. “I had hoped to make the quarterfinals or the semifinals. Then again, it could be worse. I could have lost in the first round.”

Mancini will meet eighth-seeded Andrei Chesnokov of the Soviet Union in the quarterfinals. Chesnokov rallied to beat No. 8 seed Jim Courier of the United States 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 in a 2 1/2-hour match reminiscent of Chesnokov’s five-set marathon victory against Courier in last year’s French Open.

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Trailing 6-5 and serving in the second set, Chesnokov fell behind 30-0 but rallied to force the tiebreaker, which he won 7-3.

Meanwhile, No. 3 seed Andres Gomez of Ecuador beat 14th-seeded Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden 6-4, 7-5. Gomez, a two-time winner in the Italian Open, will meet Italy’s unseeded Omar Camporese in the quarterfinals.

Playing his best tennis of the tournament, No. 4 seed Emilio Sanchez of Spain eliminated 13th-seeded Jonas Svensson of Sweden 6-3, 6-2.

Sanchez’s quarterfinal opponent will be Argentina’s Guillermo Perez-Roldan, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over sixth-seeded Martin Jaite of Argentina.

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In another third-round match, 10th-seeded Thomas Muster of Austria beat Jan Gunnarsson of Sweden 6-3, 6-2.

Gilbert was surprised to find Mancini in such strong form.

“I thought I had a chance today,” he said. “He hadn’t been playing that well in his first two matches. And he usually doesn’t hit his passing shots that well. I’d hoped to serve and volley. But neither my serve nor my volley was working today.”

Mancini broke Gilbert’s serve five times, twice in the first set and three times in the second.

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“When I broke in game three of the second set to go up 30-0, I think he knew it was over,” the 19-year-old Argentine said.

Mancini grew stronger as Gilbert faded, hitting his biting topspin groundstrokes high and deep to push the American back off the baseline.

“I think I gave him a lot of confidence not serving well,” Gilbert said.


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