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Sampras stays alive at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Pete Sampras avoided the growing pileup of injured and beaten players at the Australian Open and stayed on the path to a possible 14th Grand Slam crown.

Ordinarily, making the third round of a Grand Slam is no big deal for the former world No. 1. But with nine of the top 15 men, including the top five seeds, already ousted, Sampras took Thursday's 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 win over Juan Ignacio Chela with some relief.

"Knock on wood, I'm still healthy," Sampras said.

He's the only player left in the field who reached the final at one of last year's four majors. He lost the U.S. Open final to Lleyton Hewitt last September.

"It's a sign of where the game is — the game is very deep, a lot of great players," he said. "You see a lot of upsets, you're going to have guys that get hurt.

"It has been a pretty bizarre tournament, but it's happening and you've got to move on. You can't be too consumed with everyone else and what's going on, just focus on my preparation and getting the job done."

Sampras beat Chela in five sets in the third round at Melbourne Park last year and said it was tough again.

Sampras seemed to have more trouble with his own errors than he did with Chela, serving most of his 12 double-faults in the third set and finishing with 42 unforced errors.

Serving for the match, Sampras sprayed successive forehands and backhands wide and lost at love to let Chela get on serve at 5-4.

But Sampras broke back and sealed it on his second match point when the Argentine missed a forehand.

No. 15 Arnaud Clement, last year's losing finalist here, lost to Argentine Gaston Gaudio, and Andy Roddick, seeded 13th, also tumbled.

The 19-year-old American slipped on his already injured right ankle, tried to continue and then limped off court when the pain became too much,

Roddick, one of the sport's rising stars, withdrew while trailing 6-7 (11), 2-3, giving Croat Ivan Ljubicic a spot in the third round.

Roddick hurt his ankle in the first round and had it strapped "like a cast" Thursday to avoid further damage. He quit when the trainer said he was risking serious injury.