WIMBLEDON, England -- Jim Courier conjured up the pugnacious spirit of Jimmy Connors, pumping his fists, urging the clamorous crowd to its feet, grunting and grinding his way through 67 games in 4 1/2 hours of roasting heat.
On a day when gray-haired John McEnroe teamed in triumph with Steffi Graf, and 17-year-old Mirjana Lucic flexed her muscles at the expense of Monica Seles, it was Courier who again produced the most flat-out drama.Courier's second straight five-setter, a 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 13-11 test of endurance and will Friday against the Netherlands' Sjeng Schalken, left the 28-year-old American so drained he had to go to the hospital. He was given rehydration fluids through an intravenous drip, then released.
"That's Jim's strongest quality -- his heart," Pete Sampras said. "He's going to lay it on the line and fight as hard as he can. Today was the perfect example."
In the 97-minute fifth set of one of the longest matches in Wimbledon's 113-year history, Courier had to cope with the near constant pressure of being behind a game on serve.
Schalken, his face a blotchy red and his legs rubbery, finally blinked at 11-11 when he double-faulted for the 14th and 15th times. He saved three break points but not a fourth one set up by Courier launching himself toward the net to spear a backhand volley.
When Courier boomed a backhand return on the next point, and Schalken's backhand sailed long to make it 12-11, Courier motioned with his fists to the fans three times to rise to their feet and raise their voices even louder.
There were plenty of Americans among those fans, and they recognized the kind of showmanship Connors used to brandish. Cries of "C'mon, Jimbo," cascaded down on Courier, just as they used to on Connors.
Courier, who had saved one match point in the fourth set and another in the fifth, wasted none of the crowd's support now. He held at love and punched the air with clenched fists once again as the match ended after 4 hours, 24 minutes.
Courier's flagging career has been thoroughly rejuvenated on English soil this year. He scored riveting five-set victories over Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski to help an underdog U.S. Davis Cup team beat England on carpet at Birmingham in April. And in the second round at Wimbledon, he knocked off No. 12 Carlos Moya in five sets.
Now Courier, a four-time Grand Slam champion who hadn't reached the fourth round of a major since the 1997 Australian Open, will again face the sixth-seeded Henman, who beat Sebastien Grosjean 6-1, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3, 6-2.
The winner won't have to worry about No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quarterfinals. Kafelnikov split the first two sets with Cedric Pioline, then retired after falling behind 1-0 in the third, saying he pulled his right hamstring. Kafelnikov won the first set 6-3. Pioline, the 1997 runner-up, took the second 6-4.
In a match pitting No. 1 against No. 595, Sampras beat qualifier Danny Sapsford 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.