No. 10 Serena Williams stays in swing, upends Davenport

Winner says: `You get tired of losing' after 3-set Open win

U. S. Open

September 05, 2001|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Rain, humidity and large flying insects upset play at the United States Tennis Center yesterday, but it was No. 10 Serena Williams who upset No. 3 seed Lindsay Davenport in their U.S. Open quarterfinal showdown.

Davenport, who had eliminated Williams in this round last year, couldn't overcome a first-set funk that eventually led to Williams' 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-5 victory.

"I really wanted to win," said Williams, who also had been a quarterfinalist at the Australian and French opens this year. "There comes a point when you get tired of losing in the quarterfinals. I came here to be in the final. That's why I'm out here. Two more matches. Two more."

Two more like this and she could be the champion.

Williams played a fine, aggressive game. But she was helped by Davenport, who had a major lapse at the end of the seventh game of the first set from which she never really recovered. Though she tried.

The two women had been competing on equal footing till then, on serve, exchanging "Oh, my!" shots. But Davenport had earned a break-point chance and had seemed in control of the rally. It was then that her backhand inexplicably flew into the net. Two points later, Williams had safely held for 4-3 and ran out the set, as Davenport earned just one more point.

Everyone was geared up for a battle between Davenport and Williams, each a past U.S. Open champion, each trying to reach the women's semifinal, where No. 1 Martina Hingis was already waiting.

Hingis advanced earlier in the day with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Daja Bedanova.

But for about eight minutes nearing the end of that first set, it looked like it was going to be a very short match, indeed.

"I was always in a hole, coming back," said Davenport. "Even after I won the second set, I got down three-love right away. Just put myself in a hole right away. ... but I kept fighting back.

"The difference, in a match this close, is just a few points and I was always in that hole."

In another match that drew a huge crowd last night, men's No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten moved on to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7) victory over Albert Costa. Louis Armstrong Stadium was rocking. Brazilian flags waved. Fans at one end of the stadium chanted "Guga" and fans at the other end answered, "Guga!" and the bugs danced around the mop-haired Brazilian who couldn't stop smiling.

"I think it's Brazilian week or something, a festival this weekend," said Kuerten, beaming at the support he is receiving.

Kuerten will try to advance to the semifinals against Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who advanced yesterday with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 12 Arnaud Clement.

"I could say I'm maybe playing the same level as the other guys on hard court," Kuerten said. "This will be a different challenge. But I'm sure I'm prepared for this."

Late last night, No 18 seed Andy Roddick advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Tommy Robredo and will next play the winner of the match between No. 4 Lleyton Hewitt and No. 16 Tommy Haas. Haas had won the first set, 6-3, and the match was 2-2 in the second when it was suspended and continued to this morning because of rain.

By the time Williams and Davenport had played to 4-4 in the third, they had played more than two hours and broken each other's serve with regularity. Davenport had a game point to stay on serve in game six, but double-faulted and then lost the game. That made her smile, laugh and mumble to herself, "OK."

In the next game, Williams went up 40-0 for an opportunity to lead 5-3, but then she double-faulted and wound up losing the game. She didn't smile.

They held through the next three games and then it was show time. Davenport had to hold to reach a tiebreaker - but she didn't. At 30-15, Williams made a brilliant crosscourt half-volley. On the next point, she slammed a forehand down the line and at match point, she sent a blistering forehand crosscourt.

"Lindsay kept coming back," said Williams. "She has a lot of fight in her. She's won three grand slams and she was No. 1. You don't get there by giving up.

"All I know is that I was tired of losing close matches and I'm elated."

Feature matches

Men's singles

Andre Agassi (2) vs. Pete Sampras (10)

Mariano Zabaleta vs. Marat Safin (3)

Tommy Haas (16) vs. Lleyton Hewitt (4) Women's singles

Kim Clijsters (5) vs. Venus Williams (4)

Jennifer Capriati (2) vs. Amelie Mauresmo (8)

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