Sanchez Has No Defense for Her Quick Exit : French Open: Argentina's Mercedes Paz knocks out defending women's champion in the second round.


When she became the youngest woman to win the French Open tennis tournament last year at 17, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario danced until dawn, then boarded a jet home to Spain, where she bought a dog and named him Roland.

But Thursday afternoon, Sanchez Vicario sadly brought Roland with her to the interview room at Roland Garros Stadium, where both she and her Yorkshire terrier had made a name for themselves.

Sanchez Vicario lost to Mercedes Paz of Argentina in the second round this year and found another place in the French Open record book--earliest exit by a defending women's champion.

Her reaction?

"What you can do?"

What, indeed? Paz, 23, who shed 20 pounds when she got serious about her career, vanquished the 1989 singles champion, her doubles partner, in a convincing third set and won, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

There were 18 service breaks, eight by Paz, who was down, 0-40, in the first game of the deciding set. At that point, Paz decided to have a conversation with herself.

"I just said, 'Don't give her any chance,' " Paz said.

The third-youngest of 11 children of a sugar plantation owner, Paz found her victory sweet.

After ending her fifth year on the tour with a 13-18 record and the No. 87 ranking, she spent the first three months of this year training in Buenos Aires with fitness coach Jorge Trevisan. Running five miles each morning, Paz improved her physical condition and plotted a confident return to the tour.

"Before, I play tennis because I like it very much," Paz said. "Before, I was overweight and I was not very professional."

Last week, Paz won in Strasbourg, France, for the second tournament victory of her career. She also lowered her ranking to No. 39 and demonstrated that she is much improved on the court.

"I think there are three things," Paz said. "One, I am a better player now because I am physically fit. And second, I am mentally ready."

Presumably, there was no need for number three. Sanchez Vicario, ranked No. 4 in the world, said she had a bad day and Paz didn't.

And that, Sanchez Vicario said, is tennis.

"Tennis is like this: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lost," she said.

Roland barked.

"He's right," she said. "I won last year. This year is like this. Next year, I come back."

Second-seeded Monica Seles came back in her second-round match against Helen Kelesi of Canada and won, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

On match point, Kelesi dumped a volley into the net with an open court in front of her and closed her eyes in disgust. She fought off tears as she left the scene.

Kelesi indicated that she had a similar reaction earlier when she saw the draw that paired her with Seles.

"Just give me anybody else in the draw besides Seles and I think I could have beaten anyone," Kelesi said. "But Seles?"

Losing her first set since March was just about the extent of Seles' worries, but she did admit to a brief bout of uneasiness. "I was just lucky that I pulled out this match," Seles said.

Fourteen-year-old Jennifer Capriati joined Seles in the third round by breezing past Cammy MacGregor, 6-1, 6-0, in 39 minutes. Capriati's next match is against 24-year-old Judith Wiesner of Austria.

In the wackiest match of the tournament, Jim Pugh played 4 hours 48 minutes, through 61 games and three tiebreakers; dropped the first two sets and trailed, 5-2, in the third; fought off five match points; led, 5-2, in the fifth set, and lost.

Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands came back from cramps in the fifth set and won the marathon second-round match, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-5), 6-7 (8-6), 7-5.

The winner didn't look too good afterward. "I can't really enjoy it because I'm too tired to," said Haarhuis, who defeated John McEnroe in the second round of the U.S. Open last year.

Haarhuis saw one match point disappear when Pugh's shot hit the net cord and the ball dropped over. "I just kind of smiled," Haarhuis said.

To combat cramps, Haarhuis had a full-course meal--five liters of water, three soft drinks, six bananas, a loaf of bread--and could have ordered dinner if the match had lasted any longer.

"I never knew what was going to happen in the match," Pugh said.

The 61 games matched the French Open record since tiebreakers were introduced in 1973.

In another endurance test, Martin Jaite of Argentina beat Michael Stich of West Germany in 4 hours 46 minutes, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4, 6-3.

Aaron Krickstein, who advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Stephane Grenier of France, expects to see an American in the final. "(Andre) Agassi, (Jim) Courier and (Michael) Chang are all in the same quarter, so one of those three is going to come out of there and he's got a good chance to be in the final," Krickstein said.

In third-round matches today, Agassi plays Arnaud Boetsch of France, Courier faces Johan Anderson of Australia and Chang meets Christian Bergstrom of Sweden.

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