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Monday, June 1, 1998 Published at 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK


Sport: Tennis

Pioline wins through

Marat Safin: out of the Open after beating Andre Agassi

Cedric Pioline has defeated the seemingly invincible Marat Safin in front of a home crowd at the French Open.

Safin's fellow Russian Anna Kournikova also saw her early run of successes come to an end as she too went out in the fourth round.

Cheered on by the 16,000-strong crowd, Pioline fought back after losing the first two sets and finished with a 7-5 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 win.

The 28-year-old goes on to play Morocco's Hicham Arazi.

Arazi, 24, secured his place in the final eight by beating Spain's 1994 finalist Alberto Berasategui 6-2 4-6 3-6 6-3.

As expected Safin put up a tough challenge. The 18-year-old had previously knocked out Andre Agassi and defending champion Gustavo Kuerten.

Pioline, the highest ranked unseeded player at the Open, said afterwards: "It was a difficult match, both for my legs and mind."

Kournikova's demise was a lesser spectacle for the crowds.

The Czech third seed Jana Novotna kept up the pressure when the match resumed after being suspended due to poor light.

The final victory score was a depressing a 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-3 for supporters of the 16-year-old Russian.

But Kournikova complained that her request to leave the court to go to the toilet had been refused.

"This was the first time in my life that I decide to go to a bathroom break," she said.

"In the rule book it says a player has the right to take a bathroom break twice and this was the first time I asked in the match.

"I asked the referee twice and he refused and said I had to continue to play. What should I have done? Just walked through? I couldn't beg him in front of 20,000 people and the camera."

In the other fourth-round match, champion Iva Majoli went through to face second-seed Lindsay Davenport by beating Conchita Martinez to score a 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.



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