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DUTCHMAN ousts Safin; Sampras held up by rain

Updated:

LONDON (AP) _ Top seeded Marat Safin tumbled out of the Stella Artois grass court championship at Queen's Club on Thursday, losing 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8) to Dutchman Peter Wessels.

The Russian never looked comfortable on a sunny but blustery center court and failed to find a way to overcome Wessels' big serve and greater consistency.

Rain twice interupted Pete Sampras' third round match against Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands. The first stoppage was at 1-1 and second seeded Sampras was leading 2-1 on serve, when play was postponed until Friday.

Third seed and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt failed to get on court to face Byron Black, and that match will also be played on Friday, followed by the quarter-finals.

Although Safin had won their only previous meeting, indoors at a German Challenger event in 1998, Wessels proved his grass court pedigree last year by winning the Newport tournament shortly after Wimbledon.

``I think I was a little bit unlucky in the tiebreak. That's it,'' Safin said. ``I'm satisfied the way I am playing. It's okay. I think it's enough, one week. More than enough. You can't return on this court. It's a bad bounce and you have to be careful.

``I don't understand why all the people think I can't play on grass,'' he said. ``I've lost a match, but I can lose anywhere. I feel okay. I lost 7-6 in the third after having the match point.

``But everybody is convinced Safin cannot play on grass courts. I'm going to the net on the first serve. But my game is not serve and volley. Pete Sampras, he goes to the clay court and it's even worse. I think I have more options to play on grass than him on clay.''

British stars Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski maintained the fans hopes of a home victory in the tournament by winning in straight sets.

Fourth seeded Henman survived 20 aces to beat big-serving Australian Wayne Arthurs, seeded 16, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) and 12th-seeded Rusedski overpowered Vladimir Voltchkov, seeded eight, 6-2, 6-2.

Seventh seeded Wayne Ferreira of South Africa, who won here in 1992 and was runner up the following year, reached the last eight by beating Dutch opponent Raemon Sluiter 6-3, 6-3.


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