Hewitt outlasts Roddick

Energetic Kafelnikov ousts No. 1 Keurten, gains Open semifinal

U.s. Open

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

NEW YORK - One night removed from the near epic Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi marathon that featured two of the games greatest, and also among its oldest, last night's U.S. quarterfinal was a drama for the young and relentless.

For the second straight night, a quarterfinal match delighted the crowd and pushed the players and the clock well past midnight, and in the end it was Lleyton Hewitt who prevailed over Andy Roddick, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, in a match that paired the two youngest Open quarterfinalists since 1984.

There were only four service breaks, including one in the final game after Roddick became irate at an overrule by chair umpire Jorge Dias. On the first point of the game, Roddick hit a crosscourt backhand that a linesman called good but Dias overruled, even though the ball landed on the far sideline.

"It was straight on the line!" Roddick screamed at Dias. "How can you overrule the far side of the court? What is wrong with you? You can't overrule it at 4-5 in the fifth set. What are you? Are you an absolute moron?"

Five points later, Hewitt hit a backhand passing shot for a winner on the first match point and collapsed in jubilation.

Roddick shook hands with Hewitt and then Dias, and declined to discuss his tirade or the ruling during an on-court interview. "Lleyton was a great competitor," Roddick said, his voice breaking. "He was too good for me tonight. But I'll be back."

The marathon was a fitting encore to Sampras' victory over Agassi 24 hours earlier. At the outset the crowd was large but largely subdued, and many left before the finish, but those who remained were rewarded with a dramatic finish at 12:41 a.m. EDT.

Hewitt ended the 19-year-old Roddick's bid to become the youngest men's Open champion. The No. 4-seeded Australian advanced to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

Tomorrow, he'll play No. 7 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who advanced by routing a curiously listless Gustavo Kuerten, the No. 1 seed, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3.

That gave Russia two semifinalists in a Grand Slam event for the first time.

Defending champion Marat Safin advanced Wednesday and will play Sampras in a rematch of last year's final.

The women's much-anticipated semifinals are today. No. 1 Martina Hingis plays No. 10 Serena Williams in a matchup of former champions, and defending champion Venus Williams, seeded fourth, plays No. 2 Jennifer Capriati in the second match. .

During the afternoon quarterfinal between Kuerten and Kafelnikov, 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 and the quarterfinal, 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 quarterfinal.

"I think that man singing threw me off, a lot," said Kuerten, the No. 1 seed. "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 at low ebb. 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 later match, neither player on Ashe Stadium lacked energy. Roddick and Hewitt breezed through the first set, stretching and scrambling to reach each others shots. Like Sampras and Agassi the night before, they reached the tiebreaker. Once there, Roddick pressed hard to spring to a 5-1 lead and then scored set point on a 136 mph ace.

But then, with Hewitt up, 40-30, in the first game of the second set, Roddick rolled his ankle twice. Though he seemed to walk it off, his game slipped a little afterward, long enough for Hewitt, upping the power output, worked his way to 15-40 on Roddick's next service game and got the break when Roddick double-faulted.

The twisted ankle brought of memories of their last meeting at Roland Garros, where Hewitt advanced in the French Open third round when Roddick was forced to retire with an injured hamstring. The match was even at the time, 6-7, 6-4, 2-2. Hewitt, 20 and a pro since 1998, also won their only other meeting last March at the Ericson Open, in straight sets.

The young Aussie, playing in his second Open quarterfinal, maintained the one-break edge through the set, 6-3, to even the match at 1. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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