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TENNIS : Chang, Stich Outlast Rain; Becker Comes Up Dry

From Associated Press

Defending champion Michael Chang and third-seeded Michael Stich had their matches interrupted twice by rain Thursday before advancing to the quarterfinals of the $1.72 million ATP Championship.

Eighth-seeded Boris Becker of Germany, however, fell to Amos Mansdorf of Israel, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.

Seventh-seeded Jim Courier came back from a 1 hour, 23-minute delay to beat Sandon Stolle of Australia, 6-3, 6-4.

“It is tough to keep your mind together when you have to go in three times,” said Stich of Germany, who beat Jim Grabb, 6-2, 6-7 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4).

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“I haven’t played a better server,” Grabb said. “The velocity and direction--I should have paid extra for the serving lessons.”

Chang, seeded fourth, beat 13th-seeded Cedric Pioline of France, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Today, he will face Jason Stoltenberg of Australia, who beat 12th-seeded Wayne Ferreira of South Africa, 6-0, 6-1.

“I felt I played a near-perfect match,” said Stoltenberg, who has been the hottest player on the ATP Tour during the past two months. “It was one of those days when everything went the right way.”

Stoltenberg is 16-3 in his past four tournaments and has moved up to a career-high 22nd in the rankings.

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“Each day I get on the court I feel better and better,” he said. “I like to think it’s just a lot of hard work paying off.”

Stoltenberg had shoulder surgery a year ago, but has come back better than ever, living up to the promise he showed as the world’s top-ranked junior player.

Second-seeded Stefan Edberg, also re-establishing his game, ousted MaliVai Washington, 6-3, 6-4.

“I didn’t play a bad match,” said Becker of his loss to Mansdorf. “It wasn’t like a terrible loss. He is a strong player.”

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Mansdorf has knocked two seeded players out of the tournament.


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