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Delay for football doesn't deter men

By Times wires and staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 9, 2002


NEW YORK -- How did Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi spend the final minutes leading up to Sunday's final?

NEW YORK -- How did Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi spend the final minutes leading up to Sunday's final?

Watching football.

Because CBS delayed their match to accommodate its NFL lineup, the final, supposed to begin about 4, started at 4:45 p.m. Both kept a close eye on the Bills-Jets game, which went to overtime, from the same locker room.

To keep loose, they stretched and Sampras took several practice swings.

CAN'T TOUCH THIS: Serena Williams' domination cannot be overstated. After ending 2001 ranked No. 6, Serena is 45-4 with three major championships and six titles in 10 events this year. The world No. 1 is 4-0 against her sister, No. 2 Venus, with wins in each of the past three majors. She also went 4-0 against Saddlebrook's Jennifer Capriati, ranked No. 3.

Venus is 60-3 against everyone else.

"She's been able to play well at the right times," Venus said. "Surely she hasn't been able to play her best every point, every match. But it's a sign of a champ when you can pull it out at the best times."

Serena's losses have been to Meghann Shaughnessy (injury default), Patty Schnyder, Justine Henin and Chanda Rubin. Serena was asked if she would call it a Grand Slam if she won the next major, January's Australian Open, an event she missed with an ankle injury. A Grand Slam is obtained by winning all four majors in the same calendar year.

"It's a Serena Slam," she said. "I have to start over when I get to Australia.

SISTERS TV: Saturday night's all-Williams final had lower overnight ratings than when they played here in 2001. Serena's 6-4, 6-3 victory drew a 7.2 rating on CBS, down from 7.7 when Venus won in the first women's final in prime time. The men's semis Saturday afternoon averaged a 4.2 rating, 50 percent higher than 2001. Each overnight rating point equals 717,310 TV households.

HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE: With Serena and Venus playing Saturday and Agassi facing Sampras on Sunday, it marked the first all-American men's and women's singles finals since 1979 when Tracy Austin defeated Chris Evert and John McEnroe beat Vitas Gerulaitis. American men have advanced to Open finals 11 of the past 13 years.

OTHER CHAMPIONS: Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez won the women's doubles, adding to their French Open title. Top-seeded Richard Gasquet won the junior boys title, and Maria Kirillenko the girls. In girls doubles, Elke Clijsters, younger sister of Kim, and Kirsten Flipkens won, and Michel Koning and Bas Van der Valk took the boys. In men's 45 and over, Mansour Bahrami and Gene Mayer prevailed. For the women, Ros Fairbank and Joanne Russell-Longdon won.

-- KEITH NIEBUHR, Times wires

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