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High-quality qualifier qualifies for quarters

WIMBLEDON, England -- She's sweet 16, but here on the courts of Wimbledon, where a succession of showers compromised the progress of the Round of 16, Jelena Dokic continued to unveil a take-no-prisoners scheme Monday that vaulted her into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Dokic, ranked 129th in the world, used a 6-4, 6-3 upset of ninth-seeded Mary Pierce to become the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach Wimbledon's quarterfinals since 154th-ranked Molly Van Nostrand gate-crashed 14 years ago. And Dokic, last year's junior U.S. Open champion, was not satisfied yet."I want more; hopefully I'll go a bit further," Dokic said. Her quarterfinal opponent has yet to be determined because of the postponement of the Round of 16 clash between two Americans, the veteran doubles specialist Lisa Raymond and 18-year-old Alexandra Stevenson, like Dokic a main-draw neophyte with designs on the title.

"You've got to think you're unbeatable," said Dokic, an Australian who has been a professional for all of six months. "It's anybody's tournament now."

The only other women to advance before rain ruined the day were third-seeded Lindsay Davenport, who turned aside six set points in the opening set before overwhelming 13th-seeded Barbara Schett, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1, and Wimbledon's 31-year-old defending champion, Jana Novotna, who eliminated Nathalie Dechy of France, 6-3, 7-5.

Andre Agassi, the 1992 Wimbledon champion, who reactivated his Grand Slam aspirations by claiming the French Open title three weeks ago, found himself challenged by another Australian qualifier, 163d-ranked Wayne Arthurs, and his 25 aces. However once Agassi was able to draw a bead on the serve of the left-handed Arthurs, he reached the quarterfinals with a 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 6-4 comeback.

Agassi said he was careful not to underrate Arthurs, who at 28 qualified for his first Wimbledon this year and made it all the way to Agassi in the Round of 16, a run of 111 games, before dropping serve.

"It's difficult to win if you can't break somebody," said Agassi, who finally did in the third game of the third set. "I didn't expect the versatility in his serve; I was expecting a significant amount of pace and ability to close out the volley. I mean, he's Australian, so if he didn't know how to volley, well, he'd lose his passport. But this was a dangerous match for me, and I gave him that kind of respect going out there, and I'm glad I did."

Agassi will be taking a respectful attitude into the next round, too, because his opponent, Gustavo Kuerten, the 1997 French Open champion, holds a 2-1 edge in career meetings and appears to be suddenly simpatico with this surface.

Monday the 11th-seeded Kuerten, whose four-spot downgrade by the seeding committee was evidently an oversight, fired 15 aces and converted seven of nine break points to knock out Lorenzo Manta, 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

Unlike Dokic, whose appetite for victories and upsets seems unlimited, Davenport expressed relief about reaching her Wimbledon goal, the quarterfinals.

"To get through to the quarters was my goal here, and I'm just so happy that it's over with," said Davenport, the reigning United States Open champion, who describes her grass court game as "average."

"It can be good sometimes," she said. "It depends which day it is. You know, the grass is naturally going to favor a person who has a very good slice and can come into the net and covering it well, and that's Novotna," her next hurdle.

"I almost feel like I have nothing to lose now," said Davenport, who has a 5-0 record against the fifth-seeded Novotna. "To play the defending champion -- this is obviously her best surface, but I like playing her. It will be interesting to see how it goes on grass."

As for the astounding breakthrough made here by three teen-age qualifiers, Dokic, Stevenson, and Holland's Kim Clijsters, who trailed seven-time champion Steffi Graf by 6-2, 4-2 when play was suspended by rain, Davenport termed it "a big turning of the guard, probably a first."