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SAMPRAS, SELES WIN OPENERS TODAY

Pete Sampras and Monica Seles won first-day matches at the French Open today.

Top-seeded Sampras, rocketing 23 aces, defeated Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), while Monica Seles, the top-seeded woman, crushed French wild-card Caroline Dhenin 6-1, 6-1.The day was tougher for third-seeded Andre Agassi, who played sloppy tennis in the rain and was reprimanded for foul language before he defeated a qualifier. Jim Courier also struggled to win.

There had been some doubt whether Sampras, having suffered back trouble, could get past Gustafsson, winner of the St. Petersburg Open in March.

But Sampras played steady all-around tennis, firing his last nine aces in the last set of the two-hour match. Sampras suffered a nosebleed, but he went on playing after his trainer gave him some tissue to stop the blood.

With the third-set tiebreaker, he ended the match with a forehand cross-court winner and smiled as he looked to the sky.

"I got off to a good start today. I haven't played a lot of clay court tennis this year. To come out and play and win straight sets, I'm pretty pleased," Sampras said. "Obviously my road here just gets tougher."

He was referring to the next round when Sampras meets two-time French Open winner Sergi Bruguera, who defeated fellow Spaniard Javier Sanchez 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.

Seles, a three-time French Open champ returning for the first time since she was stabbed three years ago, beat Dhenin in less than an hour despite plans by Dhenin to fire shots that would test Seles' injured right shoulder.

Seles had to pull out of the Madrid Open on Friday after one match, but she showed no sign of pain Monday taking her 22nd straight win at the French Open, though she later admitted she couldn't serve with full force.

An emotional Seles waved and clapped to a warm standing ovation from the crowd. She was flanked by dark-suited bodyguards - an ever-present reminder of her stabbing in April 1993 by a deranged fan.

"It's mutual. They loved having me back and I loved being back," she said. "I missed it so much."

Despite 77 unforced errors, Agassi managed to defeat Jacobo Diaz of Spain 6-1, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 6-4. Diaz, making his debut at a Grand Slam event, had 44 unforced errors.

"I've had some of my best memories here and some of my worst," Agassi said after the match, completed after a 90-minute rain delay in the afternoon.

Agassi steamrolled through the first set against Diaz 6-1 in 24 minutes. But after making five forehand errors, Agassi lost the second set 7-6 (9-7), threw his racket and received a warning for an audible obscenity.