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Yzaga proves Sampras beatable

By
DEAN SCHABNER UPI Sports Writer

NEW YORK, Sept. 6 -- The players at the 1994 U.S. Open said it over and over again: There were the top 10 players, and then there was Pete Sampras. Sampras was in another class. As unbeatable as any player can be. On Tuesday, the question was put to Jaime Yzaga, and the Peruvian came up with a different answer. 'Yeah, of course (Sampras is beatable),' Yzaga said after first proving it on the court with a 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 upset of the world's top-ranked player. 'Everybody was saying that he's unbeatable, whatever,' Yzaga continued. 'You know, that's really hard to say. Everybody, I think, is beatable. He's a great player, probably the best -- you have to play real, real well to beat him. But I think everybody is beatable.' Sampras, who went straight to the trainer's room after the match, later said he was just physically exhausted. He talked about blisters on his feet, but denied that tendinitis in his left ankle, which kept him out of competition for five weeks before the Open, had anything to do with his loss. Yzaga, who knocked Sampras out of his first Open in the first match he played in Flushing Meadows, came in with the strategy of trying to make the American run. Figuring that Sampras might not be in top form after a long layoff and three relatively easy matches, Yzaga hoped to be able to wear him down. 'I came out to the match really trying to make him move, to try to move him as much as I could because (though) he played three matches before, he didn't play anybody that would play from the baseline and move him around,' Yzaga said.

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The victory puts 26-year-old Yzaga as far into a Grand Slam event as he ever has been. He reached the quarterfinals of the 1991 Australian Open, where he lost to Stefan Edberg. Sampras made more money this year -- even with the five-week layoff -- than Yzaga has in his 10-year pro career ($2,232,196 to $1,788,164). It took 3 hours, 38 minutes for Yzaga to take out the weary champion and reach the quarterfinals. 'I just hit the wall today,' admitted Sampras, who played the final stages of the match with little movement, little velocity and little emotion. His serve was off all day, and by the final set his first serves were clocking under 100 mph, although he lifted it up in the final game -- when he was broken. 'Basically, the third set I felt my recovery between points was getting longer and longer,' Sampras said. 'I felt like I'm just not in great shape right now. My body's sore and I just didn't have anything left.' Yzaga won't have to worry about facing any other 'unbeatable' players. The only other seed remaining in the top half of the draw was No. 4 Michael Stich, who defeated No. 14 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3, 6-2. Yzaga next meets unseeded Karel Novacek, a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 winner over Javier Frana. Only two seeded men made it to the quarterfinals in the bottom half, and the highest of them is No. 9 Todd Martin. This is the first time since seeding began in 1927 that the three top-seeded men were eliminated before the quarterfinals. 'It's huge beating the No. 1 player in the world in a Grand Slam event,' said Yzaga, who made it into the round of 16 for the first time since 1985. 'It can't be better than this; nothing is better than this. 'I congratulate him because he never gave up. Obviously he wasn't feeling well, but that's what makes a champion. He was fighting until the end.' Despite his sluggishness, Sampras seemed in control after he won the third set and then broke in the second game of the fourth set to go up 2-0. Yzaga, though, broke in the fifth and 11th games. Another break by Sampras forced the tiebreaker and, although he won the first two points, he was unable to hold on. Helped by a service break in the sixth game, Yzaga raced to a 5-2 lead in the final set. But Sampras struggled back, converting his third break point in the ninth game. However, Yzaga made the decisive break in the 12th game with a backhand crosscourt service return. 'That's a perfect ball for Jaime,' the Peruvian's coach Patricio Rodriguez said. 'Serving coming into his backhand, that's the best for Jaime.'

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