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Predictable Day at Open

Mauresmo, Hewitt and Roddick advance, as do Serena Williams and Capriati, who set up a Tuesday meeting in the quarterfinals.

September 06, 2004|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — It was as if the U.S. Open tennis tournament took a deep breath Sunday.

No remarkable upsets happened. There was no five-hour, five-set outside court drama to grab the patrons and drag them away from sipping champagne over raspberries or eating bento box lunches.

The night-session patrons were treated to two uncompetitive matches. Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France controlled play from the start with her magnificent one-handed backhand in a dispassionate, 6-4, 6-2 dismantling of No. 16-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy.

In the last match of the day, No. 4 Lleyton Hewitt won the first 12 points of the match, won the first set in 17 minutes and never let No. 30 Feliciano Lopez of Spain find a hint of rhythm in a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win.

Things were not much more competitive during the day.

Defending champion and second-seeded Andy Roddick used his racket as a bludgeon and No. 29 Guillermo Canas of Argentina was sent home, a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 loser in a match that lasted 1 hour 37 minutes. After ducking away from many of Roddick's 21 aces, Canas muttered, "His serve is difficult. Well, almost impossible."

According to Serena Williams, several doctors told her to skip the U.S. Open. She said they warned that her surgically repaired left knee needed another break. Williams said the only doctor she listens to is Dr. Serena.

"I became a doctor just recently," Williams said. "I took my own doctor's advice so I played. I can't miss the Open."

This was after third-seeded Williams blasted No. 15 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland off the court, 6-4, 6-2.

There was no evidence of a sore knee as Williams hit 12 aces and grunted noisily with effort on every whack she took at the ball in an unremitting display of power.

Her win set up a quarterfinal against No. 8-seeded Jennifer Capriati, who recovered from a 5-3, first-set deficit to defeat No. 12-seeded Ai Sugiyama 7-5, 6-2.

Since the 2001 French Open, Williams and Capriati have met six times in Grand Slam tournaments, including twice already this year. The two Americans have split the six meetings. This year, Capriati upset Williams in the quarterfinals of the French Open in three sets, and Williams blitzed Capriati, 6-1, 6-1, in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. As Capriati said last week, "I expect to play her now."

And as Capriati said Sunday, when asked whether she thought Williams was a wounded duck and unable to play her best or move her best, "I don't believe what anybody says. I just expect them to be 100% of their game. Because I really don't think anybody would be playing if they didn't feel 100%."

The most emotion on display Sunday came from 19-year-old Vera Zvonareva. The 10th-seeded Russian crumpled rackets, slammed her fists on her head and cried in anger and frustration after missed shots even while she was winning the first set against French Open finalist and No. 6-seeded Elena Dementieva. The inability to control her passion finally caused a total meltdown. Zvonareva quit hitting the tennis ball in the court until she totally unraveled in a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss.

"You wouldn't see any fourth-round matches of a Grand Slam not emotional," Zvonareva said. "When you can control it, you play better. Maybe next time I'll be better and win the match."

With little drama to fill the day, it was more interesting to look ahead.

Fifth-seeded Lindsay Davenport and No. 11-seeded Venus Williams will face each other this afternoon in a fourth-round match that could have been a final two or three years ago.

They've played 24 times since 1997, and it's 12 wins for each. Davenport's fantastic hard-court summer started with her hard-fought, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4) win over Williams in the finals of the Stanford tournament. It was a win, Davenport said, "that gave me a lot of confidence and showed me I was heading in the right direction." Davenport is riding a 20-match winning streak and has won her last four tournaments.

Tuesday, Serena Williams will play Capriati. Both players said there won't be surprises. They will bash each other from the baseline. There will be little finesse. "We both want to fight, you know," Williams said.

"We've played each other so many times," Capriati said. "I've played her at her best, I've played her at her worst. I've played her at my best, me at my worst. With her I feel like either it's going to be like a bulldozer or it's going to be a lot of errors."

A men's fourth-round match was set up Sunday that will be worth watching.

Tommy Haas, once a top-five player who was tabbed as Boris Becker's successor as Germany's next great champion, has had two shoulder operations over the last two years.

Haas, 26, has pushed his ranking up to 45th in the world, partly helped by his victory at the Los Angeles tournament this summer. His 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 win over Brazilian qualifier Ricardo Mellos on Sunday was emphatic.

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