Kafelnikov Survives 1st Round
- By Steve Wilstein
- May. 26 1999 00:00
PARIS -- Michael Chang's game looked hopelessly frayed and Andre Agassi held on to the threads of his career as the French Open began with more memories evoked than created.
Chang still has some semblance of craft and art, and heart enough to get the most out of them, but they could only help him scare top-ranked Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, not beat him.
Ten years after Chang precociously reached the pinnacle of his career by capturing the French - and his only Grand Slam title - at 17, he departed in the first round for the first time here, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0, 7-6 (10-8).
Kafelnikov said the meeting with Chang "was the match that I was hoping not to have."
"But my confidence is much higher than I thought it would be," he said. "If I get through the next match I will be a contender to win."
To see Agassi struggle on Monday against a pedestrian player like Argentina's Franco Squillari was to be reminded of the slippage in the American's talents from the years when he was a serious threat.
In winning 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3, Agassi showed little to convince anyone that he might actually win the tournament.
The first day was full of near-upsets and long matches.
Defending champion Carlos Moya of Spain came back from two sets down to beat world No. 85 Markus Hipfl of Austria 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic, seeded No. 15, became the first seeded player to fall, though his 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss to Hicham Arazi of Morocco was hardly a major upset.
The defending women's champion, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain, breezed 6-2, 6-2 past Mirjana Lucic of Croatia. No. 1 Martina Hingis of Switzerland downed Amanda Hopmans of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-4 to set up a second-round match against Amelie Mauresmo of France. Hingis beat Mauresmo in the Australian Open final this year after an interview she gave stirred up a controversy about Mauresmo's sexual orientation.