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Cahill Pulls Rank on Rosset This Time : Tennis: Australian follows upset of Ivanisevic with another surprising victory to reach quarterfinals.

March 04, 1994|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

INDIAN WELLS — On Wednesday, he showed Goran Ivanisevic.

On Thursday, he showed Marc Rosset.

"I'm not the 1,013th player in the world," Darren Cahill said.

He is according to the ATP Tour computer rankings, but that happens when you're sidelined for nearly three years because of a knee injury.

In the Newsweek Champions Cup at Hyatt Grand Champions, Cahill is a quarterfinalist after eliminating the 11th-seeded Rosset, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), only 24 hours after upsetting the fifth-seeded Ivanisevic.

Ivanisevic and Rosset, who are doubles partners, reacted similarly to being ousted, each grabbing his gear and storming off the court.

Rosset punctuated his exit by smashing his racket.

"It's a close match, you know," Cahill said. "I would have been upset if I had lost--maybe not to that extent--but 7-6 in the third, it's just a point here or there. What can I say? I'm just happy to win."

The 28-year-old Aussie is happy just to be playing.

Cahill underwent the first of four operations on his left knee in April 1991 and spent most of the next 2 1/2 years rehabilitating the knee and running the sports bars he co-owns in his native Adelaide with a lawyer, a cricket player and an Australian Rules football player.

Before he started practicing again about three months ago, he said, he hadn't hit a ball in more than 1 1/2 years.

And although he won a doubles title with countryman Sandon Stolle at Sydney in early January, he hadn't won a singles match in four tour events before this week.

Last week, he lost in the first round of a qualifier.

But because his ranking was protected at No. 73 for purposes of entering six tournaments in the first six months after his return, Cahill was part of the 56-man main draw in the Newsweek Champions Cup.

He won in the first round when Olivier Delaitre retired because of a back injury.

Now among the final eight, he'll play Stefan Edberg today.

Surprised?

"I guess a little," Cahill said. "My form's been good coming into the tournament, but to beat two guys of the caliber (of Ivanisevic and Rosset) . . . I'm a little surprised. But very happy about it."

A U.S. Open semifinalist in 1988, Cahill earned a career-high ranking of No. 22 in 1989 and has won two tour singles titles.

Retirement from the tour, he said, was not a consideration.

"I was always working every day toward getting back on the tennis court," he said. "When I (was injured), I was only 25 years old. And now I'm only 28. I still think there's a good two or three or four years left in me.

"There were times when I got depressed, especially come Wimbledon, come the Australian Open--all the Grand Slam times. You're sitting home watching on telly instead of getting out there playing. But, really, the first six or eight months were the most frustrating.

"After that, I looked at it as a challenge to get back on the court. It didn't really enter my mind about giving it away."

Tennis Notes

Top-ranked Pete Sampras fired 17 aces in defeating MaliVai Washington, 7-5, 6-2, to move into the quarterfinals. Sampras has won 26 matches in a row against U.S. players and is 7-0 against Washington. . . . Also advancing to the quarterfinals were third-seeded Stefan Edberg, 6-2, 6-3, over Fabrice Santoro; No. 8 Thomas Muster, 6-4, 6-4, over Jonathan Stark; No. 10 Petr Korda, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, over No. 7 Todd Martin; No. 12 Alexander Volkov, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, over No. 6 Michael Chang; No. 16 Carlos Costa, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, over Patrick Rafter, and unseeded Aaron Krickstein, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 over Patrick McEnroe. . . . The temperature on the stadium court was 106 degrees at 11 a.m., 120 degrees five hours later, but none of the players complained. . . . For the record: Goran Ivanisevic, winless in his last four appearances in this tournament, won two matches at Grand Champions in 1990.

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