MELBOURNE, Australia -- American MaliVai Washington produced the first big upset of the $5.7 million Australian Open, ousting second seed Michael Stich in four sets Tuesday in the opening round.
Washington, a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team who is ranked No. 26 in the world, defeated Stich, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, in a match lasting 2 hours 34 minutes on the Flinders Park center court.
Washington, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., dominated the former Wimbledon champion in the first two sets and broke through for 2-0 in the third set. Stich, who won six events last year on four surfaces, rallied to take the set but dropped serve in the fourth game of the fourth set after leading 40-0 and was unable to regain his compusure.
Washington, who made the round of 16 at last year's Australian Open and was beaten by Stich in the first round of the Australian Open in 1991 after taking the first two sets, earned the victory when Stich double-faulted on match point.
'Today I was just not on the court. I didn't even know the scores at times,' a disappointed Stich said.
'That doesn't speak much for my mental strength out there but you have to give credit to Mal; he played a good match, he hung in there and didn't make unforced errors like I did. I played a terrible match.'
Washington, who faces Andrei Cherkasov of Russia in the second round, was less critical of his opponent but conceded the German had been off his game.
'I can say I've seen him play better but that's the way tennis is,' the 24-year-old said. 'It's the best win I've had in a long time and it's nice to beat the No. 2 in the world in your first win of the year.
'Whether he played better or not I felt good with my tennis and I felt I was hitting the ball pretty well.'
Stich became the third seeded man to lose in the opening round of the 1994 Australian Open.
Cedric Pioline of France, last year's U.S. Open finalist, was beaten Monday in four sets by Czech Martin Damm while Petr Korda of the Czech Republic was ousted Tuesday by Swede Thomas Enqvist, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7- 2).
Nineteen-year-old Enqvist, who knocked out Andre Agassi from last year's U.S. Open, dropped Korda, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), leaving the Czech Grand Slam Cup winner puzzled.
'I was just overpowered, he played well and I couldn't move today,' said Korda, who has yet to win a Grand Slam title. 'I have to think about what went wrong, I honestly don't know right now.'
In contrast, Stefan Edberg, a two-time champion and the tournament's No. 4 seed, advanced in style Tuesday along with three leading women's contenders, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Conchita Martinez and Gabriela Sabatini.
Edberg posted a 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 win over Javier Sanchez of Spain although he was broken when serving for the match.
'I went through pretty easily today and actually played quite well. It is as good as you could wish for,' he said.
Sanchez Vicario of Spain, seeded second behind Steffi Graf, moved comfortably into round two with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Slovakia's Karina Habsudova. The former French Open champion said she was pleased with her performance and was optimistic of her chances of landing a second career Grand Slam.
'I played a good match and I am very happy with the way I played. I think I have the right direction and I'm playing really well. I'm looking forward to seeing whether I can win another (Grand Slam title) soon,' she said.
Martinez, Sanchez Vicario's compatriot and No. 3 seed, had a difficult afternoon against Natalia Zvereva of Belarus before clawing back to win, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, and Argentina's Sabatini defeated Stephanie Rottier of Holland, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Wimbledon finalist Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic beat Fang Li of China,6-1, 6-3, and Japan's New South Wales Open champion Kimiko Date beat American Kathy Rinaldi Stunkel, 6-1, 6-1. Mary Joe Fernandez outclassed fellow American Elly Hakami, 6-4, 6-3, Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva crushed another American, Sandra Cacic, 6-3, 6-1, and Mary Pierce of France defeated Italian Natalia Baudone, 6-2, 6-1.
Wayne Ferreira, the South African No. 13 seed, advanced smoothly in the men's section with a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (10-8) win over Brazil's Fernando Meligeni, and Swede Magnus Gustafsson shrugged off a hamstring strain to oust Roger Smith of the Bahamas, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
'I pulled a hamstring muscle in the fourth set and had a lot of problems with my serve. I had to change my serve but fortunately he isn't a hard hitter. I was lucky today,' Gustaffson said.
Thomas Muster, the No. 6 seed from Austria who won seven titles in 1993, was untroubled in beating American Robbie Weiss, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, in his opening match while American Todd Martin, Alexander Volkov of Russia and Arnaud Boetsch of France also advanced to the next stage in straight sets.
Volkov overwhelmed Australian hope Wally Masur, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, Martin beat Jaime Yzaga of Peru, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, and Boetsch registered a 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 win against Ryan Blake of the United States.
The top seeds return to the center court Wednesday with Pete Sampras taking on Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Graf facing Nicole Provis.
In other leading matches, defending champion Jim Courier plays Marcos Andruska and Goran Ivanisevic meets Jason Stoltenberg.