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By ERICA BULMAN
Associated Press Writer


ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- Swiss teen-ager Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian beat Russian Tatiana Panova in straight sets Thursday at the Swiss Challenge, setting up a quarterfinals match with new world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati.

Capriati, who's had a troubled start to her reign as the world's top-ranked player -- losing her opening-round doubles match and laboring past Russian wild card Nadia Petrova in three sets in the singles -- can't expect any easy time.

The 17-year-old Mikaelian, ranked 105th and playing in her first Tier 1 event, beat seventh-seeded Elena Dementieva in straight sets in the opening round and proved just as expedient against Panova. She ousted the Russian 6-1, 6-3 in just 62 minutes.

``Jennifer was once my idol, but now she's my rival,'' Mikaelian said. ``I think I can win, otherwise I would not show up on the court. I'll certainly play my best game and try to do something.

``I'm not nervous about playing the world No. 1, but maybe tomorrow I will be a bit. But I'll just think of the ball and not about Jennifer on the other side of the net.''

Playing in their first matches after receiving first-round byes, fourth-seeded Jelena Dokic overcame Chanda Rubin 6-4, 6-4, while ninth-seeded Sandrine Testud downed former French Open champion Iva Majoli 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Qualifier Daniela Hantuchova defeated Barbara Schett 6-1, 7-6 (5), and faces Lindsay Davenport.

Mikaelian breezed through the opening set in 24 minutes, losing just three points on her own serve.

After cutting her shin with her racket while serving, her pace slowed somewhat in the second set. But an injury break at 3-3 to bandage the bleeding cut appeared to help, Mikaelian breaking at 5-3 to close out the set with a backhand down the line.

``The key was patience,'' Mikaelian said. ``I tried to wrong-foot her and make her run. I put the pressure on early and caught her by surprise.''

Dokic overcame 11 double faults and 34 unforced errors, then complained about the tournament schedule.

``Playing your first match four days into the tournament isn't ideal,'' she said. ``Not playing until the last day possible is tough. But I guess it's something you need to deal with, and now it's over and done with.''

With just one court and TV demands, organizers are often forced to weave an irregular program. Some players are given days off between matches, while others play matches back-to-back.

Neither Rubin nor Dokic served particularly well, with 10 breaks of service in the match.

Dokic plays eighth-seeded Silvia Farina Elia in the quarterfinals, while Testud faces Nathalie Tauziat. Testud replaced defending champion Martina Hingis -- sidelined with an ankle injury -- in the draw.
 

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At least the Swiss has something to cheer about! Go Marie-Gaiane!!!
 
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