Israel's Levy wins crowd, match

Perspective on terrorism: `Sad to say that you get used to it, but you do'

Notebook

U.S. Open

August 27, 2002|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - You get used to terror, said Harel Levy, one of three Israeli players in the U.S. Open.

"It's sad to say, but you do," he said yesterday, after winning his first U.S. Open match as a main draw player. "You have a terror attack 20 times a year, let's say, and it's something very common. You just get used to it.

"It's not like here, where you have one big terror attack and you say, `Wow!' For us, it's something that was happening since I was a little kid. So, like I said, it's sad to say that you get used to it, but you do."

Yesterday, at the National Tennis Center, surrounded by a loud, supportive crowd on the small No. 7 court, Levy beat No. 30 seed Andrei Pavel, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Not only was it his first victory at the Open in three tries, but also his first victory of any kind since he underwent hip surgery 11 months ago.

In the crowd, Dick Savitt, the only Jewish player to ever win Wimbledon, watched and applauded, and a contingent of Israeli junior players chanted "Le-vy" after every big point. Others in the crowd joined in.

Many, such as Levy's coach, Oded Jacob, had thoughts about Levy's pulling out the match at a time when his country could use a sports hero.

"Our country is so small," Jacob said, "everyone knows everyone. Every 18-year-old serves in the army. So even if you haven't lost a close friend or a family member, you know someone who has. It's nice to do something that will make our country happy."

But not everyone was thinking of terror and war.

"I don't feel the connection from Levy to the situation in Israel," said Eytan Kurshan, a 15-year-old from New York's Long Island. "I'm just trying to enjoy myself here. I had never heard of Levy until yesterday. That's when a friend from my synagogue invited me and I found out I could come. I looked at the draw in the newspaper and saw ISR beside his name. I'm Jewish and I just thought it would be really cool to cheer for him."

Davenport bubbles

Former No. 1 Lindsay Davenport began play in her first Grand Slam tournament of the year. Coming back from knee surgery, Davenport said, "I was really excited for the tournament to start. I feel like I made huge strides last week [while losing in the final of the Pilot Pen tournament] in pretty much every aspect of my game. ... I'm just ready to go."

On court, she was good as her word, beating Eva Dyrberg, 6-2, 6-1.

"I've been practicing really well, but I don't know what it will take [to get back to her highest level of play]," she said. "I don't know if that will take, you know, beating a Williams [sisters Serena and Venus] or a very top player to then get me going or if it takes winning some more tournaments. I don't know.

"But I'm not there, though I definitely have made huge strides getting there."

Miscellaneous

American James Blake, the No. 25 seed who won in Washington two weeks ago, overcame leg cramps and survived a fourth-set tiebreaker to move into the second round. Blake and Brian Vahaly combined for a rousing match before Blake won, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (5). ...

Michael Chang, 30 and playing in what some say may be his last U.S. Open, demonstrated old dogs can learn new tricks. He won a close match against Francisco Clavet, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), and in the process came to the net 85 times.

Chang? Serve and volley?

"It's fun," he said, after winning 59 of those net points. "I'm having fun. You can only track down so many balls, and I bet I hit more winners out there at the net than I have in my whole career." ...

Anna Kournikova, still seeking her first tournament win, was ousted by Angelique Widjaja, 6-3, 6-0, in 44 minutes. Widjaja had one winner; Kournikova had 40 unforced errors.

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