Martina Hingis conceded a set and survived a scare Sunday in the fourth round of the French Open, losing seven consecutive games before she rallied to beat Ruxandra Dragomir 6-3, 0-6, 6-1.
The top-seeded Hingis admitted that she gave up hope of winning the second set after falling behind.
"I knew, you know, just get that set over with," she said. "I was down 3-0, 4-0. It's like no way at this tournament you're going to come back."
Hingis, however, recovered from a mid-match slump to advance to the last eight of the French Open women's singles - but found herself upstaged by several of her biggest rivals. Third-seeded Monica Seles, a three-time winner of the event, overcame a head cold and 13th-seeded French player Amelie Mauresmo, while fourth-seeded Venus Williams and sixth-seeded Mary Pierce were both in impressive form.
Fifth-seeded Conchita Martinez advanced after a dogfight and also looms as a title threat.
"At Roland Garros you have to fight through every round," Hingis said. "You have to really want it."
Veteran left-hander Seles beat Mauresmo 7-5, 6-3 in a match that was played in a light drizzle and only ended as darkness approached.
When her final backhand clipped the net cord, popped up a few inches and trickled over to give her the victory, Seles didn't bother with the traditional and rather silly hands-up sign of apology. Instead, she simply sighed deeply and strolled to the net, taking that bit of good fortune as payment due after a long, long streak of bad luck.
Williams, who is looking to match her sister Serena's US Open title of last year, beat 11th-seeded German Anke Huber 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
"I didn't get nervous. I just stayed calm," said Williams, who said she had completely recovered from the tendinitis in her wrists which has sidelined her for most of the year. "They are not holding me back at all," she said.
In-form Pierce, meanwhile, took under an hour to crush Asa Carlsson of Sweden 6-2, 6-1.
"I'm really pleased because I feel I'm getting better and better with each match," Pierce said.
Martinez, always a tough competitor, had to struggle for over two-and-a-half hours to beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. The former Wimbledon champion, who has 20 clay court titles to her name, reached the quarter-finals here for the 10th time.
"She was taking the ball very early and hitting the corners," said Martinez. "My balls were short and I didn't feel I played my best tennis."
TWO SPANIARDS STAR ON ROLAND GARROS CLAY
It was the day the French Open became the Spanish Open.
Two Spanish men, Alex Corretja and Juan Carlos Ferrero, qualified on Sunday for the quarter-finals of the men's singles. With another Spaniard, Albert Costa, facing Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the men's fourth round on Monday, the Spaniards are proving a dominant force on the slow, red Roland Garros clay they all love so much.
Another Spaniard, Fernando Vicente, almost sprung the upset of the day. He came within two points of beating fourth-seeded Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the 1996 champion and fourth seed.
Instead, Kafelnikov rallied to record his third five-set victory of the tournament - winning 5-7, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 8-6 after three-and-a-half hours to earn a mouth-watering meeting with another former champion - Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil.
"He kept me out there for as long as he possibly could," Kafelnikov said after coming within two points of defeat against Vicente. "I'm happy just to survive."
Kuerten, the fifth seed who won here in 1997, stayed on track for a second crack at the title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over 11th-seeded Ecuadorian Nicolas Lapentti, with whom he once won the junior boys doubles title here.
Lapentti needed treatment for a blistered right toe early in the third set - but the dice had been cast by that stage.
"I'm enjoying myself a lot here," Kuerten said. "I came here feeling strong and with a lot of confidence, but from now on it's wide open for everyone."
Corretja, the 10th seed, and Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 16th seed, were both impressive as they reached the last eight.
Corretja, a finalist in 1998 and a perennial contender here, beat 18-year-old Swiss prodigy Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2 after a hard-fought baseline battle.
"It was a difficult match for me today, everybody was telling me I was going to win before I even played. Tennis is not like that - you have to respect everyone," said Corretja.
Ferrero out-played power-serving Australian Mark Philippoussis 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
"At least there will be one Spanish semi-finalist," said Ferrero, who added he had always dreamed of playing at Roland Garros and was thoroughly enjoying his first experience of the tournament - (Several Sources)
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