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Stark, Courier top U.S. efforts

The Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Jim Courier is back from tennis' version of the land of the living dead, bludgeoning balls with all his old fury and inspiring even longtime rival Andre Agassi to cheer him from the wings.

Snarling, pumping his fists, leaping as he slugged winners, Courier outlasted No. 12 Carlos Moya of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-2 Wednesday in his best performance at Wimbledon since he reached the final six years ago.

An unabashed flag-waver, Courier celebrated a day of American triumphs that featured a straight-sets victory by defending champion Pete Sampras and a four-set upset by newcomer Paul Goldstein over another seeded Spaniard, No. 16 Felix Mantilla.

Medford's Jonathan Stark also won in his opening-round, four-set doubles match with partner Richey Reneberg. The Stark-Reneberg team defeated David Sherwood and Tom Spinks of Great Britain, 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-3).

Seven-time women's champion Steffi Graf narrowly avoided the same fate that befell Martina Hingis a day earlier. The German overcame a nearly flawless first set by stocky South African Mariaan de Swardt to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and advance to the third round.

A first-round loser the past three years, a second-round loser the two years before that, Courier is into the third round with every reason to think he can keep going at least a little longer.

Courier's fierce play won over a hostile Centre Court crowd that painfully remembered the way he beat Britain's Greg Rusedski in their decisive Davis Cup match two months ago.

Against a net-charging Moya, Courier stood his ground on the baseline and battered passing shots for winners when it counted most in the third-set tiebreaker and final set. But there was more to Courier's game than mere groundstrokes. He boomed returns that left the Spaniard stunned, and when he had the chance he moved in and attacked, producing a fair impression of a man who had learned how to volley.

It was, throughout, a thrilling duel between two former French Open champions who had to adjust their games to grass. But by the end, Moya was reduced to stumbling wearily in pursuit of Courier's shots from all over the court as the 28-year-old American kicked his game into a higher gear.

In other men's matches, Australian Mark Philippoussis, seeded seventh, served 38 aces in beating compatriot Mark Woodforde 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, and French Open runner-up Andrei Medvedev was eliminated by Daniel Nestor, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.

In other women's play, No. 4 Monica Seles, No. 6 Venus Williams, No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, No. 12 Amanda Coetzer, No. 13 Sandrine Testud and No. 17 Anna Kournikova all advanced in straight sets.