Stefan Edberg bowed and waved to all corners of the Foro Italico stadium. The 10,200 spectators stood for several minutes in a rousing ovation. Tears streamed down the faces of many fans.
Edberg, playing his 14th and final year on the tour, received an emotional farewell after losing 6-3, 6-3 to Richard Krajicek in the Italian Open quarterfinals Friday."In a foreign country. To have an ovation like that was quite amazing," Edberg said. "I expected a nice round of applause, but this was really special."
Even during the match, the crowd repeatedly broke into rhythmic clapping and chants of "Stefan! Stefan!"
"Sometimes I had goosebumps out there," said Edberg, playing for only the third time in Rome. "It was great leaving the court. Even if I lost the match, it didn't matter today."
Krajicek said he felt lonely on the center court.
"My girlfriend and another friend were supporting me," the Dutchman said. "It was like three against 12,000."
In a night match, top-seeded defending champion Thomas Muster powered into the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 Marcelo Rios of Chile. Muster needed just over an hour to defeat a player considered one of the rising stars in tennis.
In other quarterfinal matches, sixth-seeded Wayne Ferreira beat No. 14 Andrei Medvedev, 6-4, 6-4, and No. 11 Alberto Costa crushed Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi, 6-2, 6-1.
The Edberg-Krajicek match featured the unusual sight of two men playing classic serve-and-volley tennis on clay. It also included the second-fastest serve ever recorded on the ATP Tour.
BERLIN - Top-seeded Steffi Graf advanced to the semifinals of the German Open on Friday, but second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 5 Anke Huber were upset.
Sanchez Vicario lost to Elena Likhovtseva of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, while Huber was ousted by Karina Habsudova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-4. Graf beat 10th-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-1, 7-5.
Graf's next opponent will be fourth-seeded Iva Majoli of Croatia, who advanced with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 7 Barbara Paulus of Austria.
Seles to Play in Madrid Open
MADRID, Spain - Monica Seles will return to competitive tennis next week in the Madrid Open, and she has asked for wild-card entry to the Eastbourne tournament in England next month.
The Madrid tournament will mark Seles' first competition since February, when she lost to Iva Majoli in the quarterfinals of the Pan Pacific tournament in Tokyo.
A month earlier, Seles won her ninth grand slam title at the Australian Open.
For the past three months, Seles has been sidelined with a shoulder injury that forced her to withdraw from a Federation Cup match in Austria last month.
She is co-ranked No. 1 with Steffi Graf by the WTA computer.
The $250,000 Madrid Open, to be played May 21-25, will be Seles' final tuneup for the French Open.