COURIER OPENS FRENCH WITH WIN, EXTRA CAPS
The Charlotte Observer
Tuesday, May 26, 1992
Observer News Services
Jim Courier brought extra white caps this time.
"I've looked at the tape, and the cap looks a little grungy," Courier said. "This year, I'm going to wash it or something. I have a couple other caps."
Courier, the defending champion, wore the favorite's role Monday at the French Open as well as his trademark cap as he opened with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-2 victory over qualifier Niclas Kroon. It was a Wimbledon kind of day at Roland Garros, with one afternoon shower interrupting play and a big thunderstorm ending it.
When the thunder, lightning and downpour hit Roland Garros in the early evening, organizers were forced to postpone 23 matches that were in progress or had yet to start.
Pete Sampras, the men's third seed, and Jennfier Capriati, No. 4 among the women, will have to come back today (television coverage begins at 9 a.m. on ESPN) to try and finish off their opponents in decisive final sets.
Both matches were still close.
Sampras led big-serving Marc Rosset 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-2. But Rosset was one point from breaking serve to make it 4-3.
Capriati led Beate Reinstadler, a qualifier from Austria, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 2-1. Capriati, who has been exhibiting early symptoms of burnout at age 16, squandered four match points in the second set and appeared vulnerable.
John McEnroe, playing in possibly his last French Open, was scheduled to follow Capriati on center court for the last match of the day against Nicklas Kulti of Sweden.
Organizers thought McEnroe was a worthy center court attraction. Not so for Courier, who was relegated to court No. 1.
If the slight bothered him, it didn't show. He swept past Kroon, extending his match winning streak to 17.
Courier faltered briefly in the first set, dropping three straight games after leading 5-2. Kroon, ranked No. 216 in the world, had three break points for a chance to go up 6-5 and serve for the set.
Kroon went for broke on the first break point, swinging as hard as he could on the service return - only to sail the ball into the wall behind the baseline. Courier eventually won the game with an ace.
In the tiebreaker, Courier stepped up the pressure with deep ground strokes and led all the way, a pattern that continued in the next two sets.
Courier said he was fortunate to escape with the first set.
"He went for his shots and the shots fell," Courier said. "I stayed tough and managed to sneak through the first one."
Kroon said Courier proved he should be the tournament favorite.
"If I had to put money on who will win the tournament, I would have to put it on him," Kroon said.
Courier wasn't sure whether to be angry about being scheduled on court No. 1.
"People have been telling me it's tradition (for defending champions) to be on center," he said. "I have a gut feeling I'll be on center for my next match."
That will be against Thomas Muster, a clay-court expert who won the Monte Carlo Open this year. Courier beat him at the Italian Open two weeks ago.
Muster said the pressure will be on Courier: "He's No. 1 in the world and he has to beat me."
One player who claims to be happier than ever is Steffi Graf, winner of the French Open in 1987 and 1988 but who has faltered the past three years.
Seeded No. 2 behind Monica Seles, she opened play Monday by beating Rene
Simpson-Alter 6-3, 6-1.
"I was very impatient in the beginning," Graf said. "I tried too much. I overplayed my forehand. It took a couple of games to calm down."
Graf, who suffered from various physical ailments and family problems in recent years, feels better than ever about her game.
"I am happier and more confident on the court," she said. "When you realize that some things start to work better, you enjoy it a bit more. And being happy on the court, you become more and more eager."
For Alter, facing Graf at centre court was a new experience. However, losing was something she could do without.
"I was upset having to play her in the first round," Alter, 26, ranked No. 82 in the world, said. "It was a great experience to play Steffi, but losing to her isn't an experience I want at the French Open.
"I played pretty well and had a game plan. But it wasn't enough to beat her."
Among the other women seeds advancing were No. 4 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, a 6-0, 6-2 winner over Katja Oeljeklaus; and No. 6 Mary Joe Fernandez, who beat Petra Langrova 6-3, 6-1.
Among the men, No. 6 Guy Forget, No. 8 Goran Ivanisevic and No. 9 Carlos Costa all made it to the second round.
The only seeded player eliminated was No. 16 Jakob Hlasek, who lost 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-4 to Andrei Medvedev. Medvedev, the youngest player in the field at 17, won the French Open junior tournament last year.
* Jimmy Connors' opening-round match with Michael Stich has been pushed back to Wednesday because of Monday's rain.
French Open results, schedule (appeared on 6b)
Men's singles first round: Jim Courier (1), Dade City, Fla., d. Niclas Kroon, Sweden, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-2; Magnus Larsson, Sweden, d. Alberto Berasategui, Spain, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2; Goran Prpic, Croatia, d. Richey Reneberg, Palm Desert, Calif., 6-0, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4; Thomas Muster, Austria, d. Cassio Motta, Brazil, 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2; Thierry Guardiola, France, d. Horacio de la Pena, Argentina, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5; Markus Naewie, Germany, d. Jason Stoltenberg, Australia, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (8-6), 6-3; Carlos Costa (9), Spain, d. Karsten Braasch, Germany, 6-1, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3; Goran Ivanisevic (8), Croatia, d. Simon Youl, Australia, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-2, 6-1; Laurent Prades, France, d. Byron Black, Zimbabwe, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; Claudio Pistolesi, Italy, d. Eduardo Masso, Belgium, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2; Guy Forget (6), France, d. Luiz Mattar, Brazil, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; Kevin Curren, Austin, Tex., d. Guillermo Perez-Roldan, Argentina, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3; Bart Wuyts, Belgium, d. Anders Jarryd, Sweden, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2; Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, d. Arne Thoms, Germany, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4); Gilad Bloom, Israel, d. Jan Siemerink, Netherlands, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; Andrei Medvedev, Ukraine, d. Jakob Hlasek (16), Switzerland, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-4; Patrick McEnroe, Oyster Bay, N.Y., d. Bryan Shelton, Huntsville, Ala., 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Women's singles first round: Manon Bollegraf, Netherlands, d. Eugenia Maniokova, Russia, 6-2, 6-3; Steffi Graf (2), Germany, d. Rene Simpson-Alter, Canada, 6-3, 6-1; Jana Novotna (10), Czechoslovakia, d. Debbie Graham, Fountain Valley, Calif., 6-3, 6-2; Natalia Medvedeva, Ukraine, d. Meike Babel, Germany, 6-4, 6-4; Wiltrud Probst, Germany, d. Kataryna Nowak, Poland, 7-5, 6-0; Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere (8), Switzerland, d. Halle Cioffi, Loudon, Tenn., 6-4, 7-6 (7-1); Shaun Stafford, Gainesville, Fla., d. Kathy Rinaldi, Amelia Island, Fla., 6-3, 2-6, 6-3; Noelle Van Lottum, France, d. Katrina Adams, Chicago, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; Katia Piccolini, Italy, d. Jenny Byrne, Australia, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2; Beverly Bowes, San Antonio, d. Sybile Niox-Chateau, France, 7-5, 7-5; Elena Brioukhovets, Russia, d. Kristie Boogert, Netherlands, 6-1, 6-2; Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria, d. Nicole Provis, Australia, 6-2, 6-3; Arantza Sanchez-Vicario (4), Spain, d. Katja Oeljeklaus, Germany, 6-0, 6-2; Brenda Schultz, Netherlands, d. Chanda Rubin, Lafayette, La., 6-2, 5-7, 6-4; Mana Endo, Japan, d. Isabelle Demongeot, France, 6-1, 6-2; Sabina Appelmans (16), Belgium, d. Tami Whitlinger, Boca Raton, Fla., 6-4, 6-3; Maya Kidowaki, Japan, d. Audra Keller, Memphis, 6-1, 6-2; Silke Meier, Germany, d. Angelique Olivier, France, 6-3, 6-3; Larissa Savchenko-Neiland, Latvia, d. Barbara Collet, France, 6-4, 6-0; Louise Allen, Winston-Salem d. Dominique Monami, Belgium, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3; Mary Joe Fernandez (6), Miami, d. Petra Langrova, Czechoslovakia, 6-3, 6-1; Veronika Martinek, Germany, d. Eva Sviglerova, Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-1; Sandra Cecchini, Italy, d. Monique Javer, Britain, 6-1, 6-1; Linda Harvey-Wild, Hawthorn Woods, Ill., d. Rennae Stubbs, Australia, 6-4, 6-2; Federica Bonsignori, Italy, d. Nathalie Herreman, France, 6-3, 6-4.
Men's singles first round: Pete Sampras (3), Bradenton, Fla., led Marc Rosset, Switzerland, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-2; Alberto Mancini, Argentina, led Alex Corretjas, Spain, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 4-3; Rodolphe Gilbert, France, led Guillaume Raoux, France, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 0-3; David Prinosil, Germany, led Jonas Svensson, Sweden, 6-2, 6-1, 2-3; Richard Fromberg, Australia, led Markus Zoecke, Germany, 6-4, 6-4, 2-0; Andrei Cherkasov, Russia, led Jordi Arrese, Spain, 6-1, 6-3, 1-0; Andrei Chesnokov, Russia, led David Wheaton, Deephaven, Minn., 6-3, 4-0; Jaime Yzaga, Peru, led Gilbert Schaller, Austria, 3-1.
Women's singles first round: Jennifer Capriati (5), Saddlebrook, Fla., led Beate Reinstadler, Austria, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 2-1; Nicole Muns-Jagerman, Netherlands, led Sandrine Testud, France, 1-0; Luciana Reynares, Argentina, were tied Petra Thoren, Finland, 4-6, 6-4, 5-5.
Today's featured matches
Center Court: Sergi Bruguera, Spain, vs. Ivan Lendl (10), Czechoslovakia; Beate Reinstadler, Austria, vs. Jennifer Capriati (5), Saddlebrook, Fla., comp. of susp. match; Ines Gorrochategui, Argentina, vs. Nathalie Tauziat (12), France; John McEnroe, New York, vs. Nicklas Kulti, Sweden; Gabriela Sabatini (3), Argentina, vs. Silvia Farina, Italy.
Court 1: Monica Seles (1), Yugoslavia, vs. Catherine Mothes, France; Pete Sampras (3), Bradenton, Fla., vs. Marc Rosset, Switzerland, comp. of susp. match; Andre Agassi (11), Las Vegas, vs. Javier Frana, Argentina; Olivier Soules, France, vs. Stefan Edberg (2), Sweden; Bettina Fulco-Villella, Argentina, vs. Julie Halard, France.
Other matches: Petr Korda (7), Czechoslovakia, vs. Christian Bergstrom, Sweden; Brad Gilbert (15), Oakland, vs. Cedric Pioline, France; Michael Chang (5), Coto de Caza, Calif., vs. Paul Haarhuis, Netherlands.