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Hingis grows more assured

Easy win puts her in U.S. Open quarterfinals.

By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 5, 2000


NEW YORK -- You can forgive Martina Hingis if she seems eager to get down to the nitty gritty of this U.S. Open. It's not that she doesn't take matches like her fourth-rounder against Sandrine Testud seriously. It's just that she has done this so many times before -- whipped the people she is supposed to -- that she is eager to test herself.

With her handling of Testud 6-2, 6-1 on Monday in the conclusion of a match suspended Sunday because of rain, she moved closer to the final weekend and another chance to snap her Grand Slam title drought that is nearing two seasons. Next up is Monica Seles in the quarterfinals. If Hingis wins again, her semifinal opponent could be Venus Williams, who along with her sister Serena has changed the game, including the way Hingis plays it.

"Before, it was more like everything was a little slower. You had more time to prepare the shots, just mix it up more, slow it down, make it faster," Hingis said. "Now you just have to hit every ball pretty much as hard as you can. And you have to be aggressive in practice, also. No more time for playing games."

Hingis gets her next test today, forced to play a third consecutive day because of the rain that continued Monday to plague the schedule.

Fifth-seeded Serena Williams, 10th-seeded Anke Huber and unseeded Todd Martin put away their opponents before showers washed out the rest of the day session. Among the interrupted was fourth-seeded Pete Sampras, who led unseeded Hyung-Taik Lee 7-6 (7-4), 3-1 before play was suspended. When play resumed 21/2 hours later, Sampras finished out the match 6-3, 6-2. The night session was completed without a weather problem. Second-seeded Lindsay Davenport defeated unseeded Justine Henin 6-0, 6-4. She faces Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Unseeded Carlos Moya, a semifinalist in 1998, defeated eighth-seeded Alex Corretja, and ninth-seeded Lleyton Hewitt beat seventh-seeded Thomas Enqvist in three sets. Arnaud Clement, who eliminated No. 1 seed and 1999 champion Andre Agassi, moved into the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time by beating Andrei Pavel. Huber advanced when Pierce retired from their match with a right shoulder injury. Huber took the first set 6-4, then Pierce called it quits when pain that arose during warmups became too great.

Martin's victory over 10th-seeded Cedric Pioline was the only real surprise of the day. The two played late into the night Sunday because of rain delays before the match was halted. They resumed a little more than 13 hours later.

Martin seemed to handle the interruption better, starting out fast and finishing strong. He never lost his serve in getting two steps from a repeat of last year's final-round showing.

Hingis' win was another confidence-builder in her quest to keep pace with power players Davenport, Pierce and the Williams sisters, who have been getting the best of Hingis lately. She has worked on her confidence in recent weeks while training at Saddlebrook Resort, where she also lives, determined to fortify it as much as her game.

The taller, sturdier Testud still more than doubled Hingis' winners (15 to 6), but Hingis proved more steady and crafty, which is how she became arguably the game's best player. She let Testud orchestrate her own demise, and the French pro seemed all too eager to oblige, committing 44 unforced errors in a loss that took 58 minutes over two days and extended Hingis' mastery over her to 12 straight matches.

It was an eye-opener considering Hingis struggled to put away Testud 21/2 weeks ago in the Du Maurier Open quarterfinals, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

"It's like I've improved since that tournament in Montreal," Hingis said. "I got confident."

Serena Williams, looking sharp in defense of her title, stumbled a bit early against dangerous Jelena Dokic before roaring past her in a little more than an hour. The less-muscular Dokic was kept on her heels by Williams' power and aggressiveness, almost puzzled about how to combat Williams' serve, which produced 14 aces.

"You feel like you have to go for everything because if you don't, she will," Dokic said. The match tilted in the tiebreak when Dokic blew three set points, allowing Williams back into the set, which was all the advantage she needed. Deflated and disgusted, Dokic folded her tent, winning eight points in the second set.

"Maybe I could have played the (three set points) a bit differently looking at it now," Dokic said. "Maybe that's what turned the whole set around, the whole match."

U.S. Open

Monday's highlights

MEN: Pete Sampras (4) def. Hyung-Taik Lee 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4; Carlos Moya def. Alex Corretja (8) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4; Todd Martin def. Cedric Pioline (10) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-2; Richard Krajicek def. Dominik Hrbaty 7-6 (13-11), 6-4, 6-1; Arnaud Clement def. Andrei Pavel 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).

WOMEN: Martina Hingis (1) def. Sandrine Testud (11) 6-2, 6-1; Lindsay Davenport (2) def. Justine Henin 6-0, 6-4; Anke Huber (10) def. Mary Pierce (4) 6-4, retired; Serena Williams (5) def. Jelena Dokic 7-6 (9-7), 6-0; Elena Dementieva def. Lilia Osterloh 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5).

OTHER MATCHES OF NOTE: Women's doubles: Serena Williams-Venus Williams def. Kim Clijsters-Laurence Courtois 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. Mixed doubles: Anna Kournikova-Max Mirnyi (4) def. Martina Navratilova-Rick Leach 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

TODAY'S FEATURED MATCHES

MEN: Nicolas Kiefer (14) vs. Magnus Norman (3); Marat Safin (6) vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero (12); Carlos Moya vs. Todd Martin.

WOMEN: Venus Williams (3) vs. Nathalie Tauziat (8); Martina Hingis (1) vs. Monica Seles (6).

WOMEN'S DOUBLES: Lisa Raymond-Rennae Stubbs (1) vs. Cara Black-Elena Likhovtseva (10); Chanda Rubin-Sandrine Testud (4) vs. Serena Williams-Venus Williams; Anke Huber-Barbara Schett (7) vs. Martina Navratilova-Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

TODAY ON TV: 11 a.m., 7:30 p.m., USA.

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