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Martin endears crowd with marathon victory


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 7, 2000

NEW YORK -- Todd Martin may not be the best-known player on the ATP Tour, but he's becoming a crowd-pleaser.

His remarkable 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 come-from-behind victory over Carlos Moya in the wee hours of Wednesday morning was reminiscent of his five-set comeback win against Greg Rusedski at last year's Open. His latest thriller, which earned him a spot in the quarterfinals, lasted four hours and 17 minutes, and ended at 1:22.

It is the longest match of this year's tournament, and the seventh time in his career Martin has rallied from being down two sets to none.

After the match, the usually reserved Martin smashed his racket in celebration and took a victory lap around the court, slapping high-fives with the few brave souls who stayed inside Arthur Ashe Stadium until the conclusion.

"I was seeing things," Martin joked about his post-match antics. "It was a lot of fun. And you do what you do when you're having fun. It's a drunk sensation. It's a matter of losing our inhibitions about you and letting people see what's inside of you."

PALMER SEEKS DOUBLES DOUBLE: Tampa's Jared Palmer has a shot at winning a U.S. Open title, perhaps even two. Palmer and doubles partner Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario won their mixed semifinal Wednesday to reach the final.

Palmer and Sanchez-Vicario, seeded second, put away third-seeded Elena Likhovtseva and Paul Haarhuis 6-4, 6-4.

Earlier in the day, Palmer and Alex O'Brien advanced to the men's doubles semifinals. They whipped unseeded David Macpherson and Grant Stafford 6-0, 6-4.

HEWITT HAS ARRIVED: Lleyton Hewitt advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal. And he's only 19.

Everyone in tennis has seemingly been waiting, almost expecting, this kind of result from Hewitt -- except Hewitt.

"Definitely, 18 months ago or two years ago, I would have definitely thought you were joking" if told he would be in a Slam semifinal before age 20, he said.

Hewitt of Australia has been taking the subway from Manhattan to the National Tennis Center in Queens each day. But the farther he has gotten into the tournament, the more people have noticed him.

"You definitely notice a lot more people coming up and asking for photographs, autographs, wishing you luck," he said.

DID YOU KNOW?: R&B diva Patti LaBelle and legendary singer Tony Bennett will perform during the tournament's closing weekend. LaBelle will sing the national anthem before the women's final Saturday. And Bennett will sing America the Beautiful before the men's final Sunday.

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