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TENNIS ROUNDUP : Depleted Yugoslavia Goes to France in Cup Semifinal

September 20, 1991|From Associated Press

Deprived by civil war of its two best players, Yugoslavia faces France in what could be the biggest semifinal mismatch in Davis Cup history.

Goran Ivanisevic and Goran Prpic, the stars who carried Yugoslavia this far, are Croats. The players, both ranked in the top 20, quit the team because of the conflict between their breakaway republic and the Serbian-dominated federal army.

As a result, the French Davis Cup team will face a patchwork squad of four Serbs that even French captain Yannick Noah has trouble taking seriously.

"I'm sure, in my head, that we're already in the final," Noah said.

The winner of this weekend's competition in Pau, France, will play for the Davis Cup in November against the winner of this weekend's other semifinal between the United States and Germany. If France and the United States advance, France would be the host.

Yugoslavia's top player is Slobodan Zivojinovic, who in 1987 climbed as high as 19th in the rankings but now stands at 167.

After him, the level of experience and talent plummets--Srojan Muskatirovic, ranked 439th; Goran Mihajlovic, 642 and Nebojsa Djordjevic, 942. All three newcomers, aged 18, 19 and 20, served as ballboys when Yugoslavia upset France in a Davis Cup match six years ago.

Leading the French team is Guy Forget, ranked No. 6 and coming off a victory last week at Bordeaux.

Henri Leconte, his longtime Davis Cup partner, has been dropped from the squad, which includes Fabrice Santoro (No. 40), Thierry Champion (48) and Arnaud Boetsch (87).

Second-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, the defending champion, defeated fellow American Marianne Werdel, 6-2, 6-3, in the quarterfinals of the Nichirei International tournament at Tokyo.

In second-round matches, top-seeded Monica Seles defeated Japan's Rika Hiraki, 6-3, 6-4; Debbie Graham defeated fellow American Peanut Louie Harper, 6-4, 6-4, and fourth-seeded Amy Frazier defeated Japan's Naoko Sawamatsu, 6-1, 0-6, 6-3.

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