Defending women's champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was the victim of another historic upset at the French Open today, upset by Mercedes Paz, her doubles partner known as the "other Argentine."
Paz, who has spent most of her career in the shadow of countrywoman Gabriela Sabatini, ran down the 18-year-old Spaniard's varied shots to win 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.It was a sloppy match, with nine of the first 12 games being decided on service breaks and both players making many errors. But Paz was steadier on the big points, especially in the third set, and Sanchez-Vicario never found the magic that made her the helped her win the title at 17 a year ago.
The opening match on center court jolted the tournament, which was just getting over the upsets of men's top seeds Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. And it removed one of the more colorful of the current crop of tennis teen-agers, with Sanchez-Vicario's smiley, bouncy style a crowd favorite.
Two other women's seeds playing early matches won easily Thursday.
Sixth-seeded Manuela Maleeva beat Australian Anne Minter 6-1, 6-0, and 16th-seeded Laura Gildemeister of Chile beat American Elise Burgin 6-3, 6-4.
On Wednesday, all 11 seeds in action advanced, quite a change from the upsets of the previous day. Among the winners were Americans Andre Agassi and Michael Chang, both convinced they have the right stuff to win the French Open.
The third-seeded Agassi, the men's top remaining seed, used a bunch of old rackets air-expressed to Paris from his Las Vegas home to beat Australian Todd Woodbridge 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.
Chang, the defending men's champion and 11th seed, overcame fast-starting Marc Rosset of Switzerland 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Rosset, 6-foot-5 and the owner of a devastating forehand, said he felt ill at the beginning of the third set when Chang turned it around.
Chang displayed some of the guile against Rosset that he showed last year when he beat Ivan Lendl and Edberg on the way to becoming the youngest French men's titlist.
Rosset had the match going his way when he broke for a 5-4 lead and held to win the second set, then moved to double-break point to start the third. That's when he started to feel sick.
Chang, munching bananas on changeovers to ward off leg cramps, saw Rosset was in trouble and started running him around, holding serve and winning the final three games of the set to take the lead. The Swiss couldn't stand the pace and Chang wrapped up the victory, showering the court with sawdust that he keeps in his pocket to dry his racket hand.
Chang now has won as many matches in Paris as he had previously this year in all his tournaments. The two victories here also are his first of the year on clay, a sign he welcomes.
"Just to win another match on clay is a confidence booster," said Chang. "This is a good start for me, and I hope it won't end."