Mary Joe Fernandez is carrying the American flag into the fourth round of Wimbledon as the sole American woman - out of an original 20 - to survive three rounds of this Grand Slam tournament.
Fernandez, the No. 11 seed, defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-2, 6-4 Monday afternoon to advance to a fourth-round meeting with third-seeded Jana Novotna. A quarterfinalist here last year, Fernandez also had a good showing at the French Open, where she lost in the quarterfinals to Monica Seles.
Seles’ third-round loss Monday left Fernandez the lone American in the women’s bracket. It also left top-seeded Martina Hingis, who won her third-round match on Sunday, an even clearer shot at her first Wimbledon title. With Steffi Graf recuperating from knee surgery and Seles eliminated, Hingis already has avoided her two biggest worries, and with all the upsets in the women’s draw, Hingis will have to face at most two seeded players on her road to the crown.
“I really don’t see that (anyone can beat her) at this point,” Seles said. “She probably will have a few losses (this year) to a couple of players that have good chances against her, but on the average, I don’t think so.”
After a first week devastated by heavy rains, Wimbledon is one day behind schedule, with plans to catch up in time for the women’s semifinals to be played, as usual, on Thursday.
The second Monday of the tournament is traditionally the day on which all fourth-round matches are played in both draws, but Monday Wimbledon officials scheduled the 18 remaining third-round matches and a heavy dose of doubles, which is much farther behind.
Weather permitting, fourth-round matches will be played today, and the quarterfinals on Wednesday. That would put the tournament back on schedule, but it will require the successful women to play a minimum of three consecutive days. The men will have Thursday off.
The combination of the bad weather and resulting heavy match schedule also has taken its toll on Centre Court, which is looking less and less like a patch of nice green grass and more and more like a mud pit. And when Pete Sampras - who played his first two matches on Court 1 - went out to play Byron Black Monday afternoon, he was shocked by what he found.
“It was very chewed up,” Sampras said. “I couldn’t believe in the warm-up, I mean, the middle of the court, there was no grass. Compared to the other courts - I’ve never seen Centre Court so chopped up.”
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