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Sampras Aces Tough Test From Martin

Every time Pete Sampras and Todd Martin play each other, they steel themselves for a long, hard-fought match. The idea of the two playing on clay--a surface famous for long matches--made many observers tired merely thinking of it.

The two produced the prettiest tennis of the French Open so far, and the third-round match on Friday was just as close as expected. The top-seeded Sampras won, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, in 3 hours 21 minutes.

The overcast day grew hot and baked the red clay courts of Roland Garros for the third day, making the surface fast. That, in part, accounted for the two players’ serving statistics. Sampras served 19 aces and Martin 29, believed to be the highest number in one match at the French Open.

“He’s got a huge serve, there’s no question,” Sampras said. “He’s got a serve that’s very hard to read. When he’s serving the corners, there’s nothing you can do. Just have to accept it and go on to the next point.”

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Martin started well and put Sampras on the defensive, but Sampras got a second wind and it was Martin who faded.

“I did play well, but I think you have to understand that Pete was still feeling Wednesday [his five-set second-round match] a little bit. I had some chances in the second set, and I didn’t come up with the break. He really ended up getting back into play.”

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Also Friday, 15th-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland lost to Karina Habsudova of Slovakia, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Chris Woodruff, the young Tennessean who beat Andre Agassi in the second round, lost to Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

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