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Rios Gains at Mercedes Cup Tennis

July 22, 1998

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) _ Marcelo Rios, renewing his bid for the No. 1 ranking, won in straight sets Wednesday to avoid a rash of upsets at the Mercedes Cup.

Rios, who would pass Pete Sampras at the top of the ATP world rankings if he reaches the final, defeated Germany’s error-prone Jens Knippschild, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

Rios reached the third round, along with Germany’s Boris Becker, who beat France’s Cedric Pioline, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Becker, who has retired from competing in Grand Slam events, came close to his first clay-court victory two weeks ago at the Swiss Open. But for the sixth time, the three-time Wimbledon winner came up short in a clay final.

``It’s the same old song,″ said Becker, 30. ``I can’t reach the same level as on hard courts or grass. I always come up one match short.″

Former French Open winners Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia and Thomas Muster of Austria were among the upset victims. But Carlos Moya, the current French champion, advanced against fellow Spaniard Julian Alonso, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.

Czech player Bohdan Ulihrach ousted the fourth-seeded Kafelnikov, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, while France’s Fernando Vicente downed the 10th-seeded Muster, 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 7-5.

Rios, briefly the world No. 1 this spring, survived an early break in the first set as Knippschild successfully charged the net.

Rios took control of the match after Knippschild let a 4-1 lead slip away in the tiebreaker, then double-faulted at 5-5.

Rios also had a chance to pass Sampras for the top ranking at Wimbledon, but was ousted in the first round while Sampras won the event.

In other upsets, France’s Guillaume Raoux swept past No. 8 seed Alberto Berasategui of Spain 6-1, 6-2; Spain’s Albert Portas edged No. 12 Fabrice Santoro of France, 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (9-7); and Germany’s Hendrik Dreekmann upset No. 15 Magnus Larsson of Sweden 6-4, 7-5.

Albert Costa of Spain, the No. 6 seed, also advanced by rolling past Argentina’s Franco Squillari, 6-3, 6-4.

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