WIMBLEDON, England -- In a match between No. 1 and No. 595, Pete Sampras eased into the fourth round of Wimbledon with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory today over qualifier Danny Sapsford.
Sapsford, a 30-year-old Englishman, was sent into retirement by one of the greats of tennis. He had said beforehand he would retire after the tournament.Sapsford hadn't won a match this year before Wimbledon but concluded his career by playing on Centre Court for the first time against the top-ranked player.
Sampras, a five-time Wimbledon champion, is joined in the fourth round with seventh-seeded Mark Philippoussis, who beat Francisco Clavet 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Anna Kournikova moved on to a potential fourth-round matchup against Venus Williams. She won when Ines Gorrochategui had to stop in the second set with a shoulder injury.
No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, last year's runner-up, routed qualifier Seda Noorlander 6-1, 6-1. No. 13 Sandrine Testud became the fourth women's seed to be eliminated when she was beaten by Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
Gorrochategui was treated by trainer after the first game of the second set, then retired with Kournkova leading 7-5, 3-1.
"It was my game that was dominating," Kournikova said. "I played aggressive, and I was playing some very good groundstrokes. I think I'm getting better with each match."
Williams was to play a third-round match Friday against Sarah Pitkowski.
"If she wins, it's going to be a tough match," Kournikova said. "I'll have to outthink her and try to play my game. Grass is obviously not her surface. I'll just have to play smarter."
Kournikova, seeded 17th, reached the semifinals in her only other appearance at Wimbledon in 1997. Williams, seeded sixth, made the quarterfinals last year.
On the men's side, Jim Courier is rooting for Andre Agassi, Agassi is rooting for Courier, and Sampras is on his own.
The top American men at Wimbledon say the bond among them has grown stronger because of maturity and recent results. The latest win was by Agassi, who swept Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 Thursday to reach the third round.
As a show of support, Courier was in the stands at the start of the match, just as Agassi watched Courier's five-set victory Wednesday over Carlos Moya.
So will Agassi return to the stands to cheer for five-time Wimbledon champion Sampras?
"Pete hasn't really needed a whole lot of support here in the past," Agassi said. "I felt inspired to be out there pulling for Jim. Not that I don't pull for Pete. I'd love to see him accomplish six Wimbledons -- if I happen to lose here."
An all-American final between Agassi and Sampras in England on the Fourth of July is a tantalizing prospect. Courier and fellow American Todd Martin could also be factors.
Martin, seeded eighth, joined his countrymen in the third round Thursday. Also advancing were second-seeded Patrick Rafter, No. 5 Richard Krajicek, No. 6 Tim Henman and No. 10 Goran Ivanisevic.
Another winner was three-time champion Boris Becker, who played his first match on Centre Court since 1997 and beat fellow German Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
The star-studded session drew a crowd of 40,312, largest in Wimbledon's 113-year history.
Advancing in women's play were No. 3 Lindsay Davenport, No. 5 Jana Novotna and No. 9 Mary Pierce. Australian 16-year-old Jelena Dokic, who upset Martina Hingis in the first round, edged Katarina Studenikova 6-0, 4-6, 8-6.
No. 7 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and No. 16 Natasha Zvereva joined Hingis on the sidelines. Sanchez-Vicario lost to American Lisa Raymond 7-6 (7-4), 6-1. Zvereva, a semifinalist in 1998, was beaten by Tatiana Panova 6-4, 7-5.
Agassi, Courier, Sampras and Michael Chang have known each other since they were teen-agers playing junior tennis. They've been foes rather than friends, but the relationships began to change in recent months.
Courier's thrilling performance in April to help the U.S. Davis Cup beat England inspired Sampras to rejoin the team.