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Unseeded Mariano Puerta Advances

May 11, 2000

ROME (AP) _ Unseeded Mariano Puerta, again demonstrating his mastery on clay, beat a frustrated No. 16 Juan Carlos Ferrero in a 2 1/2-hour match today in the third round of the Italian Open.

On Wednesday, Puerta ousted No. 2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Puerta won 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, with a combination of overhand smashes and soft, short drop shots that reduced Ferrero to kicking at his tennis racket and collapsing to the red clay of Rome’s Foro Italico in frustration.

Puerta, a 21-year-old Argentine, took just two sets Wednesday to dispatch Kafelnikov, who has managed only three wins in 11 appearances on European clay courts this season.

No. 4 Gustavo Kuerten, the defending champion, advanced to the quarterfinals when No. 14 Younes El Aynaoui withdrew with a heel injury.

Albert Costa defeated fellow Spaniard Francisco Clavet, 6-3, 6-2, in other third-round play.

Top-ranked Andre Agassi faced No. 15 Dominik Hrbaty of South Africa in late-afternoon action, after easily defeating qualifier Gaston Gaudio of Argentina on Wednesday.

Other matches today pitted No. 3 Magnus Norman of Sweden against Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine and No. 7 Thomas Enqvist of Sweden against an up-and-coming 19-year-old Australian, No. 9 Lleyton Hewitt.

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