Capriati shuts down S. Williams in Open

Three-set quarterfinal win offers a bit of everything, including weak officiating

U.S. Open

September 08, 2004|By Diane Pucin | Diane Pucin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK - Serena Williams said she got an apology. She needed an instant rematch.

In a 2-hour, 6-minute slugfest filled with memorable winners and bizarre mis-hits, with balls that skidded off lines and caromed off the net tape, with grunts and groans and gravity-defying gets, eighth-seeded Jennifer Capriati upset No. 3 seed Serena Williams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, last night in the U.S. Open women's quarterfinals.

Afterward, Williams said she was both "cheated" and "robbed" after four critical calls went against her in the third set when television replays showed she should have won all four points.

In the semifinals, Capriati, 28, who has won three major titles but never the Open, will play No. 6 seed Elena Dementieva, who upset No. 2 seed Amelie Mauresmo, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), in yesterday's other women's quarterfinal.

The bad calls began for Williams in the first game of the third set. While serving at deuce, she hit a backhand that was a clear winner to everyone, including the lines person nearest the ball - but not to umpire Mariana Alves.

As the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was roaring its approval of what should have been Williams' advantage, the score was posted as Capriati's advantage. When the crowd quieted and, as Williams was about to serve, Alves announced, "advantage Capriati," and an astounded Williams threw up her hands and mouthed "What happened?"

Then Williams said to Alves: "That's my point. That ball was in. It's my advantage."

Later, Williams said she was trying to avoid the mistake her sister, Venus, made at Wimbledon when the score was called wrongly, against Venus, and Venus didn't immediately recognize the mistake and have it corrected.

"At first, I thought it was another Wimbledon conspiracy," Williams said. "I thought [Alves] just got the score wrong and I wanted to clarify that I had won the point because I know my shots and I saw the ball. And I knew it was in. I said, `Okay. Wait a minute now. I just want to make sure the score was right and it was my advantage.' "

Then Williams sprinted towards Alves, yelling, "No, no, no, no, no. That was my point. What are you talking about? What's going on? Excuse me? That ball was so in. What the heck is this?"

As Williams questioned Alves, she placed a tennis ball about an inch inside a line, indicating where she thought her shot had landed. Alves told Williams she had overruled the line call, which occurred across the court, and also told Williams to calm down. Williams went on to have her serve broken in the game.

Though she broke Capriati's serve in the next game, Capriati broke again, an advantage she didn't give up throughout the final set.

In the final game, when it took Capriati three match points to finally win, television replays showed that two Williams ground strokes that were called long actually hit the baseline. And on the 30-30 point, Capriati served a clear double-fault, but her second serve was not called long and Williams lost the point.

In a statement, Brian Earley, U.S. Open tournament referee said: "Regrettably, the replay on television showed that an incorrect overrule was made by the chair umpire. A mistake was made and I have discussed the call with the chair umpire, Ms. Alves. Ms. Alves is not scheduled to officiate another match during the 2004 U.S. Open."

Williams, though, also said she played like "an idiot," and accepted blame for the loss.

"I pretty much dug my own grave and got in, pretty much covered myself up with dirt," Williams said.

On the men's side, second-seeded Andy Roddick rolled past No. 18 Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, to move into the quarterfinals without having lost a set.

Roddick saved both break points he faced against Robredo, and he's been broken only once through 50 service games in his four matches.

"I played solid. I'm serving well. I'm breaking well," said Roddick, who had 11 aces to raise his tournament total to 53.

Roddick's next opponent is the leader in that category: No. 28 Joachim Johansson, who has 79 aces after beating Michael Llodra, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

The other quarterfinal on that side of the draw tomorrow will match 2001 Open champion Lleyton Hewitt against unseeded Tommy Haas. Hewitt defeated Karol Beck, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, yesterday for his 14th consecutive win, and Haas eliminated Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 7-5.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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