Hewitt outlasts Roddick

Dispute turns tide in Open quarterfinal

No. 1 Kuerten ousted

September 07, 2001|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - It came down to an intense fifth set last night between fourth seed Lleyton Hewitt and No. 18 Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. And it was a match that was filled with tension, even before umpire Jorge Dias made an incredible call that blew things wide open.

It was 4-5 Hewitt, and Roddick, on the first point of his service game, had just hit an inside-out forehand that appeared to catch the far sideline only to have Dias make his one overrule of the night.

Roddick rushed to the chair, furious. He was told to calm down. He didn't.

"You're overruling on the far side of the court at 4-5 in the fifth!" he screamed. "What's wrong with you? You're an absolute moron."

He was given a warning and went back to resume the match. When he won the point for 15-15, he postured at the net toward Dias, who simply shook his head. Match point came quickly thereafter. Hewitt hit a brilliant passing shot down the line that brought him a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory after three hours and 40 minutes and a return trip to the Open semifinals.

Hewitt will next play Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who ousted a surprisingly listless top seed in Gustavo Kuerten, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3, in the afternoon quarterfinal.

But it was all energy in the night match.

"I don't want to talk about that," said Roddick of the call. "Lleyton is a great competitor and he was too good for me tonight. But I'll be back."

It was a very mature response, considering that only minutes before he had been beside himself, apparently with reason, as the television replay showed the ball clearly hitting the line.

"It was 0-15 and I was trying to concentrate," Hewitt said. "You've got to take your chances when you can. I just tried to block it out. I was down a couple break points and fought him off at 4-4.

"I'm going out there, doing a job. I wanted to make the semifinals. I've had a consistent year, without having a great year. I really wanted to make it back to the semifinals.

"I saw the ball as clearly in."

It was a fast and furious end to an incredible night.

Only a night earlier, the Open crowd had witnessed a battle of mature heavyweights. Last night, it was two fresh-faced kids who swaggered on to the same Arthur Ashe Stadium Court where Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi had engaged in a battle of the aging for the ages. Hewitt, 20, and Roddick, all of 19, demonstrated what the men's game may look like for a long time to come.

"I don't even remember anything after that call," Roddick said. "It was pathetic. I'm not taking anything back. I meant what I said at the time I said it. I'm disappointed that I blew up. It's unfortunate that I blew up and it ended the way it did. But I'll learn from it. It was a great match."

This was Roddick's first Grand Slam quarterfinal, and it paired the two youngest Open quarterfinalists since 1984, when Pat Cash, 19, met Mats Wilander, 20. In that match, the 19-year-old won.

In the afternoon, a man with an American flag stood up in the upper deck and sang the American national anthem, delaying the start of the 10th game of the first set with Kuerten serving to remain alive at 5-4.

When he was done, so was Kuerten, as his serve was broken and Kafelnikov was en route to winning 11 straight games on his way to the straight-set victory.

Kafelnikov's victory also meant that, with defending champion Marat Safin playing in tomorrow's other match against Sampras, it is the first time two Russians have made the semifinals of the same Grand Slam.

"I think that man singing threw me off, a lot," said Kuerten, the world's No. 1. "Half the song would have been enough."

But it was not really the man in the upper deck who threw off Kuerten. From the very beginning, his energy level was low. As thin as skinny spaghetti, he played as if he was overcooked.

"I don't know where my energy went," he said, smiling from under a cap, his golden locks springing out on both sides. "I couldn't find too much my pace, you know. I couldn't see myself running and going for the shots.

"And that's just what you say. I didn't have any energy to step up and play my best."

In the night match, both players stepped up.

After 1 hour, 58 minutes and with matters tied at one set apiece, Roddick was working toward break point in the sixth game of the third set.

Roddick was pumped. He was encouraging the crowd to rise to the occasion with him, and they responded. But Roddick, after a long rally, sent his roundhouse forehand into the tape at the top of the net.

The teen threw his head back and howled at the moon.

He had another chance to force a break point on the next point and the two combined for an amazing point. Roddick blasted a forehand deep and then rushed cross court as Hewitt swept a backhand cross court at a tight angle. Roddick caught up to it, but with an open court in front of him, he punched the ball back to Hewitt, who sent the ball back once more and this time, Roddick's volley went into the net and Hewitt went on to hold.

Roddick was slow to recover and lost four straight points to allow Hewitt the break in the very next game.

Diving for a ball on the last point of the eighth game, Roddick fell on top of the machine that calls the long serves and banged his elbow hard. Shortly thereafter, Hewitt took the third set, 6-4, and led two sets to one.

The advantage lasted only until the second game of the fourth set, when Roddick benefited on a Hewitt double fault on break point. It was one break, but Roddick made it stand up, fighting off two break points in the ninth game before mustering a big serve that forced Hewitt to send his forehand return long.

The fifth set was on.

Feature matches

Women's singles

Martina Hingis (1) vs. Serena Williams (10)

Venus Williams (4) vs. Jennifer Capriati (2)

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