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On Czech clay courts, Novotna feels at home

SHARE On Czech clay courts, Novotna feels at home

Jana Novotna, finally adjusting to clay after her Wimbledon triumph, moved into the Czech Open semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over France's Sarah Pitkowski on Friday.

Novotna, the top seed, has not lost a match since the quarterfinals of the French Open, winning 14 matches on grass at Eastbourne and Wimbledon.Novotna, showing an excellent serve-and-volley game in her home country, next plays Slovakia's Henrietta Nagyova. Nagyova beat Meghan Shaughnessy of the United States 6-1, 6-2.

In other quarterfinals, No. 2 seed Sandrine Testud of France beat No. 6 Silvia Farina of Italy 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Testud will play Natasha Zvereva of Belarus, who downed wild card Amelie Mauresmo of France 6-3, 6-2.

SWISS OPEN: Semi-retired Boris Becker, who has not won a tournament in two years, resumed his bid for his first clay-court title by beating defending champion Felix Mantilla 6-4, 6-4 Friday to reach the Swiss Open semifinals in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Becker is aiming for his 50th career title. His last one came at the 1996 Grand Slam Cup. Because of his limited schedule he is ranked No. 119, falling from the top 100 this week for the first time in 13 years.

In beating Mantilla, the No. 5 seed, Becker advanced to a semifinal for the first time this season.

The 30-year-old German will face top seed Marcelo Rios in the semis. Rios, ranked No. 2 in the world, defeated Spain's Francisco Clavet 6-3, 7-5 in his quarterfinal.

In a Spanish quarterfinal, Corretja, the No. 3 seed, rallied to a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 6 seed Albert Costa, the 1996 champion.

Corretja, who lost to compatriot Carlos Moya in the French Open final, will meet Belgium's Filip Dewulf in the other semifinal. Dewulf won 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 to stop No. 8 Nicolas Kiefer of Germany.

HALL OF FAME: Jason Stoltenberg, trying to become the first top seed to win the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, moved a stepped closer Friday by thrashing seventh-seeded John van Lottum 6-1, 6-2 in a quarterfinal match in Newport, R.I.

Stoltenberg, a 28-year-old Australian, ousted the only other seed remaining in the tournament by playing near flawless tennis.

In another quarterfinal, Neville Godwin of South Africa overcame a match point in the second set tiebreaker to defeat Justin Gimbelstob 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.

Godwin, ranked 170th on the ATP tour, will face Stoltenberg in one semifinal match. The other will feature Leander Paes of India against Laurence Tieleman of Belgium.

Paes defeated Rainier Schuttler of Germany 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to advance to the semifinal round of this tournament for the third straight year. He lost to the eventual champion both times.

Tieleman, whose 15 career ATP victories have come on grass, knocked out Mark Knowles 6-4, 7-5, rallying from a 4-1 deficit in the first set.

SWEDISH OPEN: Top seed Magnus Gustafsson, aiming for an unprecedented fourth title in the Swedish Open, advanced to the semifinals Friday when Jerome Golmard quit because of back pain early in the second set.

Gustafsson, a clay-court specialist, dropped the first set 6-7 (7-9) to his French opponent. Golmard retired after losing the first game of the second set.

Gustafsson next faces compatriot Thomas Johansson. Johansson, the No. 6 seed, edged Davide Sanguinetti of Italy 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in a match completed Friday after being interrupted by rain Thursday.

In other quarterfinals, No. 7 Dominic Hrbaty of Slovakia ousted Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Hrbaty on Saturday faces Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine. A top-five player less than five years ago, Medvedev is coming back from injuries and is now ranked No. 100.

Medvedev had to finish two matches Friday to make it to the semis. He first downed Australia's Richard Fromberg, a Swedish Open winner in 1990, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 7-6 (7-2). In the afternoon, he defeated No. 3 seed Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy 6-3, 6-4.

In doubles, South Africans Lan Bale and Piet Norval advanced to the final by beating top-seeded Swedes Nicklas Kulti and Mikael Tillstrom 6-4, 6-3.