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WILANDER, GRAF HAVE LIPTON TOURNEY DOWN TO A 'T'

Mats Wilander's first serve came floating over, an 84-mile-per-hour fuzzy yellow puff pastry.

Jan Siemerink should have creamed it. But Siemerink was prepared for a cannonball, not a puffball. Off-balance, he drilled the ball into the middle of the net.

Siemerink raised his arms, palms up, and looked toward the sky, a pitiable picture of frustration. Wilander does that to you, making tennis maddening with his change of pace.

"He mixes it up," said Siemerink, after his 6-4, 6-2 defeat to the oldest player in the men's field at the Lipton Championships Tuesday. "That's part of the tactic."

Sometimes being flawless isn't pretty. Sometimes, in the case of Wilander, a lot of junk can add up to a masterpiece.

Wilander, 30, had used junk -- off-speed pitches mixed with power -- to ascend to the top of the heap when he became the No. 1 player in the world in 1988.

That year, Steffi Graf won her Golden Slam -- winning all four Grand Slam tournaments plus Olympic gold.

On Tuesday, both came close to perfection in the fourth round of a tournament of surprises tamed by still air and relative predictability.

Pete Sampras beat Bernd Karbacher, 6-3, 6-0, in the evening match to advance to the final eight. A slightly out-of-sync Andre Agassi won against MaliVai Washington, 6-3, 6-4.

Gabriela Sabatini, Kimiko Date, Natasha Zvereva and Anke Huber also won.

In the day's only real surprise, No. 4 seed Lindsay Davenport, raspy and suffering from flu-like symptoms, lost to unseeded Australian Rachel McQuillan, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6).

But Graf and Wilander brought back memories of former selves Tuesday.

Graf's performance recalled last year, when she waltzed through the Lipton on a winning streak that didn't end until May.

Wilander is not the player he was in 1988, when he won three Grand Slams. That was before he abruptly quit in 1991, sick of the life of a tennis pro.

But a different Wilander's back. He has two kids and says his family is more important than his tennis. He is, in Walter Mitty fashion, playing out a dream -- having fun playing tennis.

"I have had enough wins in my career to not really have to win to enjoy it," Wilander said.

Now he finds pleasure in figuring things out. Like firing a 105-mph serve at Siemerink, then lobbing a slower one into his body the next point like he did Tuesday.

Wilander reached the quarterfinals of the Lipton for the first time since 1988, when he won the tournament.

"I think it would be stupid to say I have a great chance to win the tournament," Wilander said. "But I'm enjoying playing this well."

So is Graf. She finished her match against Judith Wiesner in 41 minutes. Like Wilander, Graf made a total seven mistakes against 20th-ranked Wiesner in her 6-0, 6-1 victory.

Was Graf perfect? Even she admitted she was close.

"I don't think I could play better," Graf said. "I think it is as close as I can get to the best."

New day in court for Seles

HAMBURG, Germany -- Monica Seles asked a court for a stronger penalty against the man who stabbed her in the back during a tennis match almost two years ago and "destroyed my life."

In a letter read at the retrial of Gunther Parche, Seles said her convicted attacker deserved more than the suspended two-year sentence originally imposed.

"I only want proper justice," Seles said in the letter. "This attack has tremendously and irreparably damaged my life (and) stopped my tennis career."

Seles had won eight Grand Slam titles and was ranked No. 1 in the world when she was attacked during a changeover on April 30, 1993. She has not played competitive tennis since.

"I was a 19-year-old girl when he stabbed me," she said. "He has not (been) successful in his attempt to kill me, but he has destroyed my life."

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