Semifinals Are No Popularity Contest : French Open: Chang draws boos in victory over Voinea. He will face Bruguera on Friday.


For reasons known only to those who produced them for the media, the match notes for the French Open men's quarterfinals Wednesday pointed out in boldface type this statistical embarrassment: "This is the second year that none of the top four seeds will advance to the semifinal round."

It is not likely that tournament officials would have chosen to draw attention to the fact that this Grand Slam event's top players--and its most popular--have already taken Concorde flights out of here.

The winners Wednesday, two-time defending champion Sergi Bruguera and 1989 champion Michael Chang, were roundly whistled and booed in a crowd response that indicated either displeasure or boredom. Probably both.

The matches did not offer much scintillation. The seventh-seeded Bruguera dispatched No. 61 Renzo Furlan of Italy, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2, followed by the sixth-seeded Chang's brief bout with Romanian qualifier Adrian Voinea, 7-5, 6-0, 6-1. Voinea is ranked No. 128.

That sets up two mesmerizing semifinals Friday. Spain's Bruguera will play Chang in a battle of baseline bashers, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia will play Austria's Thomas Muster in a meeting of two of the most combative and angry players on the men's tour.

None of the remaining players are favorites of the intensely partisan and always vocal crowd at Roland Garros. Bruguera was verbally assaulted during a fourth-round match for refusing to play until a line call was reviewed. Chang was lambasted Wednesday for questioning every close call in a match he clearly was going to win.

Muster raised ire many times, most recently by screaming abuse at a linesman during his fourth-round match and demanding a mark be checked, then erasing it with his foot. Kafelnikov's sin was in beating Andre Agassi, the crowd's clear favorite.

It's hard to find fault in Chang for his highly professional, but not stylish, approach.

Here, he has been playing with uncommon intensity. But he didn't endear himself to fans Wednesday. Holding a commanding lead for the last two sets, some of his requests for umpire overrules on line calls seemed superfluous.

Voinea had two set points at 5-4 in the first set, with Chang serving at 15-40, but failed to convert. After that, Chang was overpowering. He ran off 13 consecutive games until Voinea held his serve at 1-4 in the third.

At that point, Voinea, who worked his way into the tournament through qualifying, understandably was delighted to win a game. He raised his arms in mock exultation and jogged to the net to shake Chang's hand.

Chang, in a businesslike mood, strode to the service line to get on with it. On cue, it began to rain, as it has at key points during matches for the last 10 days. Under the circumstances, with Chang potentially two games from the match, tournament officials chose to continue play.

On the second match point, Voinea appeared to have pulled to deuce with a forehand volley to an open court.

Chang had not moved from the service area, having believed the serve to be wide. He called for the chair umpire to examine the mark, which the umpire did, and the original call was overruled. The fans whistled and booed Chang.

Voinea delivered a second serve, and in moments the match was over. The fans again let Chang know what they thought.

"I don't know exactly what they were reacting to," Chang said. "I don't know whether it was because I saw the ball out on the final point on the serve, or what. I realize some people like me and some people don't.

"And, for me, I like Paris. I like the people here because I think they're very expressive. Sometimes they are for me, sometimes they are against me, but either way, it's a great atmosphere for the players to play in front of. Hopefully, there will be a day whereI come to Roland Garros, and each time I come off the court, they'll be cheering. That would be nice."

Bruguera defeated a hobbled Furlan, who injured his back in a third-round match and developed pain in his hamstring. He took a three-minute injury timeout in the first set and played with a rubber sleeve covering his upper left leg.

Furlan, 25, had never advanced to the quarterfinal round of a Grand Slam event and might have gotten a taste of the physical toll a two-week tournament can take.

Yet, in a refreshing change from the norm, he did not blame the loss on his injury.

"The difficulty of the match was that he was not missing a ball," he said. "He was playing very deep. He had a great style and that was very difficult for me. Not the injury."

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