By SHARON GINN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001
NEW YORK -- The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium likely will view today's men's final through a very narrow lens: Good Guy vs. Bad Guy.
Pete Sampras, naturally, would be the good guy, and Lleyton Hewitt is an Aussie fans seem to love to hate.
He caused a stir in the second round by making what many interpreted as a racial comment. Playing American James Blake, who is black, Hewitt complained about being called for a foot fault by a black linesman, saying, "Look at him. Look at him and tell me what the similarity is."
Hewitt denied the comment was racially motivated, and the U.S. Tennis Association did not fine him, saying it was unclear what he meant by the comments. Still, Open crowds have been harsh.
"I've just blocked it out," Hewitt said. "I've just gone out there and taken it one match at a time."
Said Sampras: "It's a great effort, having to deal with some off-court stuff and come through. He's a very tough young man. Mentally he's about as strong as anyone."
TIME TO REGROUP: Technically, she remains the world's No. 1 female player. But after losing to Serena Williams in 51 minutes in Friday's semifinals, mustering just 33 points, even Martina Hingis knows she has some catching up to do.
"It's not one day, one match," she said. "It's the semifinals of the U.S. Open. I don't want to give up just like that, but we will see. ... I have to find the motivation and the hunger to be winning."
FACES IN THE CROWD: Though Robert Redford came out for Sampras' afternoon match, for sheer numbers of celebrities it was hard to beat the Venus Williams-Serena Williams final. Among the stars spotted at Arthur Ashe Stadium were the Jackson 5 (four of them at least), Sean "Puffy" Combs, Vanessa Williams, Candace Bergen, Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Trump (flanked by ex-wife Ivana and supermodel Melanie Knauss), Rosie Perez, Hilary Swank, Brandy, Ed Bradley, Bruce Willis, Bud Selig, Joe Torre and David Stern.
RISING STAR: Wesley Chapel's Ashley Harkleroad, 16, reached the semifinal of the girls' singles tournament but lost Saturday to France's Marion Bartoli 6-2, 6-3.