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Cowan triumphs despite illness; Tennis.

Byline: MARK STANIFORTH

THIRD seed Barry Cowan, from Ormskirk, struggled through to the last eight of the National Championships at Bolton with a 6-3 6-3 win over Cambridge's James Layne, despite feeling under the weather.

The rise and rise of Alex Bogdanovic continued apace, meanwhile, when the 17-year-old dealt a 7-5 6-0 drubbing to top seed Martin Lee in the second round.

Bogdanovic, who had lost in straight sets to Lee in the first round of this tournament last year, called his victory over a player ranked 951 places higher in the world rankings the best of his career.

The Middlesex youngster held the upper hand from the start, carving out three unconverted break points in the first set before Lee double-faulted on the fourth to hand him the set.

His composure and backhand passing shots were a joy to watch and left Lee, taking a break from the week-in week-out rigours of chasing the ranking points he needs for automatic entry to next year's Grand Slams, nonplussed.

"I didn't expect to get through - all I wanted was to go out and play my best and if he beat me 6-0 6-0 I'd walk away and learn from what I did wrong, " said Bogdanovic, who was born in Yugoslavia but did not pick up a tennis racquet until he moved with his family to Britain at the age of eight.

"But this win has given me loads of confidence. I'll focus on the quarter-finals and now I wouldn't be surprised if I went on to win the tournament."

Bogdanovic, a member of the British intermediate squad based at Sutton and coached by Argentinian clay court expert Tito Vasquez, is beginning to live up to his billing as the next big thing in British men's tennis.

This year he won the Uruguay Bowl in Montevideo and reached the third round of the Australian Open juniors before becoming the first British player ever to reach the semis in the junior competition at Flushing Meadows.

Bogdanovic, who will face James Nelson in the last eight today, was rewarded with a spot in Britain's Davis Cup squad for the tie with Portugal as the team's designated hitter.

In the women's competition 18-year-old Anne Keothavong booked her quarter-final place with a 6-2 6-1 cruise against Alice Barnes.

She now meets Lucie Ahl, who also dropped just three games against Rebecca Rankin, today.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 25, 2001
Words:397
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