Davenport ousts Serena Williams, who beat her last year; Sampras advances.
By DARRELL FRY
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 7, 2000
NEW YORK -- It would have been nice, the Williams sisters playing for the U.S. Open title. Even Lindsay Davenport conceded that.
But, to the dismay of tennis tournament officials and television executives, who stood to win big from an all-Williams final, it's not going to happen. Davenport saw to that Wednesday night, slugging defending champion Serena Williams 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
That leaves the Williams family name in the hands of Venus, who faces Martina Hingis in Friday's semifinals. Davenport takes on little-known Elena Dementieva of Russia in the other semifinal.
"Everybody was expecting an all-Williams final, but Martina and I had a little talk and we didn't want that to happen," joked Davenport, bidding to win the title she first won in 1998.
Wednesday's night session, which included fourth seed Pete Sampras' 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-2 win over unseeded former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek that ended after midnight, was by far the best theater.
The only people of note from the day session -- not counting Chelsea Clinton, who is a friend and Stanford schoolmate of pro Alex O'Brien -- were ninth seed Lleyton Hewitt and 10th seed Anke Huber. Hewitt, 19, breezed past unseeded Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 and into his first Grand Slam semifinal. Huber was ousted by Dementieva 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Sampras, facing the one opponent who gives him the most trouble, broke Krajicek's spirit in the second-set tiebreaker. After the Dutch star held four set points at 6-2, Sampras ran off six straight points, mostly on stinging winners, to snatch the set -- and ultimately the match.
Krajicek, who came into the match 6-3 against Sampras, kept pounding away with his sledgehammer serve (he had 23 aces), but never again seriously threatened Sampras, who rode his own piercing serve into a semifinal duel with Hewitt.
"I thought I was gone. I really did. I got a little lucky in the tiebreaker," said Sampras, a four-time champion here. "Richard always plays me tough, but I got through it."
The Williams-Davenport match didn't turn out to be the nail-biter most people expected. Two of their last three matches had gone down to the wire, but this one left nothing to the imagination.
This one was all Davenport, who finally got a lick in after losing five straight to Williams, including a semifinal defeat here last year. They both possess experience, court savvy and enough power to blow each other off the court. But Davenport, seeded second, had more of it and, most important, applied it more effectively, which is why she never lost a service game.
The fifth-seeded Williams went down swinging, fighting off five match points to close to 5-2. But she would have needed to be perfect to climb out of that hole, and her game was closer to flawed than flawless.
"I didn't play my best," Williams said. "To tell you the truth, I didn't think I hit my backhand well or my forehand or my serve. I was just out there with the motions."
As for spoiling the potential Williams vs. Williams final, Serena said: "Obviously no one wanted to see an all-Williams final because not everyone likes us."
In a way, Dementieva's win over Huber was no real upset. Dementieva, 18, has not achieved any significant results, but she is known around the WTA Tour as a dangerous player, and she had tackled Huber in Indian Wells, Calif., this spring. Plus, she whipped Venus Williams during the FedCup last year.
Here, she bumped off seventh seed and former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez in the second round and lost only two sets en route to her first Grand Slam semifinal.
Like in Indian Wells, Huber increasingly became unraveled against her teenage opponent. Dementieva is a counterpuncher.
Instead of trying to outslug the more potent Huber, she patiently rallied with her until Huber stepped into a hole, impatiently floating a forehand long or rushing a backhand into the net. Of Dementieva's 85 points won, only 17 came from clean winners.
"She's a good player," Huber conceded. "She plays it very simple. She doesn't make a lot of stupid errors."