Sampras rolls on, rocking Roddick

Playing like younger man, elder ousts 20-year-old

Win comes in straight sets

Schalken semifinal is next for 31-year-old

U.s. Open

September 06, 2002|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Andy Roddick, 20, shook his racket and squawked at the umpire. He cursed himself and finally threw his racket. All of it before the end of the second set.

None of it made any difference to Pete Sampras, age 31, who was in the midst of playing an overwhelming match in the U.S. Open men's quarterfinals last night.

When the man and the man- child came into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the place rocked to "Glory Days." Did Sampras hear it? Certainly he must believe these are those days.

"I played pretty well tonight, no complaints." Sampras said. 'These are big moments. Andy in a night match. He's the one with the up and coming future. I set the tone early.

"On the big occasion, I still have the goods."

Serving first and second serves for aces, stroking volleys for winners and relishing the challenge, he demolished Roddick, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 .

It was not a night Roddick, considered the future of the game in United States tennis, will remember fondly.

But it's one Sampras will treasure. He is through to the semifinals, where he will play Sjeng Schalken, the little known No. 24 seed who needed five sets yesterday to beat Fernando Gonzalez, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2) .

Schalken will be playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal against Sampras, who will be playing his ninth semifinal here. Sampras, the 13-time Grand Slam champion, is determined to win his 14th major title.

"This is what I play for." Sampras said, as he has said even in his most youthful days. "For me, now, it's all about winning another major."

"It was not easy." said Schalken of his victory in which he overcame not only Gonzalez but a stiff, swirling wind. "He started [well] and I thought I was in the middle of a hurricane. He was just hitting his forehand. He was very a lot of energy he has.

"I told myself that I was down 7-6 and he again hit second serves over 120 miles an hour, then a drop shot, the weirdest balls. I thought, "If he's going to play like this in my quarterfinal, I cannot make it." But then, all of a sudden, he missed a couple shots and I could get a little bit more steady like I'm used to."

There was no steadying Roddick. Though he has said Sampras was his idol growing up, Roddick acted like Sampras would never have thought of acting. He spoke rudely to the chair umpire, telling him "this is getting out of control" at one point when he disagreed with line calls in the second set. He spoke out again in the third.

There was nothing much cute or charming about the No. 11 seed, who had dazzled the crowd several nights earlier with high- fives after winning big points and running Juan Ignacio Chela off the court, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

But after the match, he recovered with grace.

"I got beat by Pete." said Roddick. No one doubts the fact that he's capable of great tennis. Look at his record here. The last two years, the finals. He backs it up.

"I always have fun playing. I am disappointed by this. But, I think I'll have my day here some day."

Roddick's play was so bad early on that when former champion Boris Becker, sitting in on the USA broadcast, was asked what advice he would give Roddick in the second set, he said, "I'd tell him to get out of the stadium."

Sampras came into the U.S. Open saying he still has the game to win another Grand Slam. He moved along easily in the early part of the draw, his serve working as in days of old.

Then he reached the third round and a match against Greg Rusedski. Rusedski came in off a tournament title in Indianapolis, playing well. Sampras, on the other hand, hadn't had a good tournament run since losing to Roddick in the final at Houston in April. Nearly everyone thought Rusedski might be the guy to send the former world No. 1 out of the tournament.

But Sampras survived in five sets and then Rusedski fueled his tank. He said Sampras wasn't "playing that well" and went on to say "he was a step and a half slow" and that he'd be "very, very surprised" if Sampras won his next match.

Sampras' response was to beat No. 3 seed Tommy Haas and now Roddick, two of the young stars on the tour.

Last night, Sampras dismissed Roddick from school in 90 minutes. When the final point was on the scoreboard, Sampras turned and did his by-now traditional fist pump.

"I feel confident." said Sampras. "I'm pressuring guys, coming in. I'm feeling energy out there."

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