Norman Upset at Mercedes Cup

Thursday, July 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Daniel Elsner, a German wild card playing his first regular tournament on the ATP Tour this year, upset top-seeded Magnus Norman 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Mercedes Cup.

Elsner used big ground strokes and a powerful serve to rally past the defending champion.

``It was the best match of my career,'' said the 21-year-old Elsner, who has been battling on the Challenger circuit this year. He received a wild card from the organizers of the $1 million clay-court event.

``I was nervous at the start but I fought on and won the tiebreaker in the second set and I became calmer. I knew if I could follow through on my ground strokes that I had a chance,'' Elsner said.

Elsner kept the Swede far behind the baseline with blazing ground strokes from both sides and allowed few points on his serve, especially in the third set. Elsner used his third match point, hitting a service winner, to end finish play after more than two hours.

Norman, winner of three titles this year and runner-up at the French Open, was coming off a victory at the Swedish Open in Bastad last week. That victory allowed Norman to regain the No. 1 spot in the Champions Race that will eventually produce the new No. 1 at the end of the year.

In the quarterfinals, Elsner will play Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic, who ousted Fernando Meligeni of Brazil 6-3, 6-2.

In another match, Rainer Schuettler advanced past sixth-seeded Tommy Haas when the fellow German Davis Cup teammate retired with a rib injury in the second set. Schuettler was leading 7-5, 2-1 when Haas decided to stop.

Another seeded player fell when seventh-seeded Karim Alami of Morocco lost to Gaston Gaudio of Argentina 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.