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Attendance record set at 605,487

By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2000


NEW YORK -- The U.S. Open set records for total attendance. Sunday's crowd of 23,115 pushed the two-week total to 605,487, topping the 584,490 that attended last year.

There were two days -- Sept. 1 and 2 -- when the event drew more than 31,000 fans to the National Tennis Center grounds, which also were records.

OTHER RESULTS: Julie Halard-Decugis and Ai Sugiyama won the women's doubles title.

Halard-Decugis and Sugiyama, seeded second, rallied to defeat 10th seeds Cara Black and Elena Likhovtseva 6-0, 1-6, 6-1.

Top seed Andy Roddick of Boca Raton won the junior boys singles title, defeating unseeded Robbie Ginepri of Marietta, Ga., 6-1, 6-3. In the girls final, top seed Maria Emilia Salerni of Argentina whipped fourth seed Tatiana Perebiynis of the Ukraine 6-3, 6-4.

THE A LIST CROWD: The stars were out again. A day after President Bill Clinton was in attendance, a host of celebrities was on hand again.

Among them: Helen Hunt, Jimmy Carter, Kevin Spacey, Ron Silver, Penny Marshall, Cicely Tyson, Frank Robinson, Tony Bennett and Neil Sedaka.

LOOKING AHEAD: Although Pete Sampras praised Marat Safin after the Russian beat him in the men's singles final, Sampras also had some words of warning for him.

"It's going to be different for him. Just expectations from the people in tennis, the media and coming back next year as defending champion," Sampras said. "He's going to be a marked man for the next year. Guys are going to be wanting to beat him even more now. But he'll handle it fine because his game is good. He'll back it up fine. Things will change, but I think he's got a good head on his shoulders. He'll handle it very well."

Safin couldn't help but recall how he survived two five-set matches on the way to the final. He slipped past Gianiuca Pozzi 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round and Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) in the third.

"I was almost on the plane (going home) with Grosjean," he said. "I found my game after the match with Grosjean because I was scared to lose. I just understood that I can lose here very easy."

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