Hingis, Williams family give peace a try

T-shirt gift to father breaks the ice in feud

U.S. Open

September 04, 1999|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- All week, the Williams family and Martina Hingis have been throwing barbs at each other.

In Round 1, Richard Williams said his daughters, Venus and Serena, would meet in an All-Williams U.S. Open final.

Round 2 went to Hingis, the No. 1 seed, who said the Williams have big mouths.

Serena was the next to check in, saying she couldn't understand why Hingis would say something like that, except, of course, Hingis, unlike Serena and her sister, "lacks a formal education."

Yesterday, Serena and Hingis were caught laughing about the stories they had generated. After breezing past qualifier Sandra Kloesel, 6-3, 6-1, Hingis asked Richard Williams to come to her post-match news conference.

"Mr. Williams always asks for my autograph at every tournament," Hingis said. "He always holds out his arm to me to sign, and I always say no. I tell him, he'll wash the arm at the end of the day, so why should I waste an autograph."

So, Hingis signed a T-shirt and gave it to Williams. He put it on and hugged her. She kissed his cheek.

Was this all staged?

"I think it was perfect timing," Hingis said, grinning. "You know, I like him. He always has his comments. It's fun, because I'm better than them so far. I'm the No. 1, not them."

A fragile spot

Mary Joe Fernandez has always been reed-thin, giving the appearance of being almost fragile. Now, in her fourth-round match, she finds herself about to play one of the tallest and strongest players in the women's game -- Venus Williams.

Fernandez is in this spot because she upset No. 13 seed Dominique Van Roost yesterday, 7-5, 6-0.

It was one of two women's upsets on the day, with No. 8 Jana Novotna losing to Anke Huber, 6-3, 6-2, in the other. Novotna was hampered by an ankle injury she had suffered during the French Open. In a night match, Amelie Mauresmo, seeded 15th, beat American Tara Snyder, 6-4, 6-3.

"All these young girls coming up are really, really good athletes," said Fernandez, who is still recovering from a wrist injury she incurred six weeks ago.

"They move well, they're strong and really fit. I see that trend continuing. They're going to keep hitting the ball hard and being powerful.

"A finesse player like me, I think really, a little bit of luck helps."

Really big shot

No. 9 seed Greg Rusedski powered a 143-mph serve in the third set of his match against David Prinosil and won, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

"I think that serve really stamped out the match," Rusedski said. "I was up a break, to go up 3-love, hit an ace, 143. The crowd gets into it, it gives me another chance to break the next game.

"It's a nice edge to have. It makes your opponent think twice sometimes, if you can hit those sort of aces with a mixing up of the serve like I've been doing."

Several of those who didn't have the big weapon played five-setters.

Cedric Pioline, who advanced in his first-round match when No. 4 Patrick Rafter retired in the fifth set, needed five sets to beat qualifier Lars Burgsmuller, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, and No. 14 Tommy Haas also needed five to defeat Mariano Puerta, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1.

Pub Date: 9/04/99

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