Serena, Venus are favourites to reach final -
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old Sep 5th, 2002, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Serena, Venus are favourites to reach final

It's getting ready to be "Prime Time." I hope my faves are in the final - but pray - that at least one of them makes it.


Serena, Venus are favourites to reach final

September 05 2002 at 11:40PM

New York - All that stands in the way of another all-Williams final at the US Open are Lindsay Davenport, who is making a remarkable recovery from knee surgery, and Amelie Mauresmo, who has made it this far in a Grand Slam tournament just twice before.

Sisters Venus and Serena Williams are one step away from their fourth championship meeting in the last five majors.

On Friday, Davenport and Mauresmo each will get a chance to ruin those plans in the semifinals.

And their prospects are not great.

'I really could have never said this would happen'
Davenport, who plays Serena, has lost seven of their nine previous meetings, including two at the US Open.

Mauresmo has lost all four of her matches against Venus.

When the sisters reached the US Open final a year ago, it was the first time since 1884 that siblings had played for a Grand Slam championship.

Venus won her second straight Open that night, and since then there have been two more sister showdowns, with Serena winning the French Open and Wimbledon.

Both sisters have put on a high-power display at the US Open. Through five matches, Venus has regularly served at over 193kph, and Serena has lost just 14 games. The only speed bump came when Venus dropped a set to Chanda Rubin, a temporary interruption in the sisters' dominance of this tournament.

'I'm really not sure what her career will be'
Davenport is playing in her first Grand Slam of the year following surgery on her right knee in January. She did not get back to the courts until the Fed Cup in July and had limited preparation for this demanding tournament.

She's amazed that she's gotten this far at the Open after a difficult rehabilitation that had her on crutches for several weeks.

"I really could have never said this would happen, especially after January and February," she said. "It was just impossible, in my mind. It's an amazing feeling. I really think this is one of my better achievements, just to be able to come back from everything this year and get to the semis of a Slam.

"I can't even describe it. For some reason here, I've started to reflect on things I've gone through and I don't know why. I mean, I just wanted to play here so badly and do well. I'm so happy that I was able to do it so far."

Davenport reached the finals of warm-up tournaments at Los Angeles and New Haven, losing to Rubin and Venus. She also lost to Venus in the semifinals in San Diego.

She's looking forward to playing Serena this time, but she understands the challenge the Williams sisters present for the rest of the field.

"They are definitely at a level above everyone else," said Davenport. "Certainly, it's a huge challenge. If I lose, I could walk away with that. I really don't want to. I'm just going to go out there and play."

Serena knows she has dominated Davenport. She remembers best, however, losing to her at this tournament in 2000.

"It haunts me still," said Serena "I was the defending champion that year. Lindsay played very, very well that night. There was nothing I could do to beat her."

They met again at the Open last year, with Serena winning a difficult three-setter. "I remember I had match point," said Serena "She goes and hits this ball on the line. It was for a winner."

Serena enjoys facing Davenport. "We play the same style of game," she said. "I actually like playing Lindsay. I can't wait. Win, lose or draw, I'm going to have fun."

Mauresmo reached the final of the 1999 Australian Open, and lost to Serena in the semifinals at Wimbledon this summer. She thinks it would be a good thing for tennis to stop the Williams juggernaut.

"People are maybe going to get bored of seeing always the same final," she said. "To me, it gets a little irritating because you want to go out there and beat those guys."

Venus zoomed into the semis by quickly eliminating former champion Monica Seles. There was no indication that she sees Mauresmo as a problem.

"I'm really not sure what her career will be," said Venus "I know what mine can be, and that's more or less what I focus on."

The sisters are also what their father, Richard, focuses on as he prowls around centre court. He schmoozes with fans and takes pictures of his daughters, seemingly unconcerned about whether they'll win. Only because that has become so routine. - Sapa-AP

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 2002, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Smile I See Said The Blind Man

Mauresmo out to break the Williams monopoly
By John Roberts at Flushing Meadows
06 September 2002

Musing about the Williams sisters' monopoly of women's tennis, Lindsay Davenport said yesterday: "Imagine if Tiger Woods had a little brother that was always going down the 18th neck-and-neck with him." It is easier to imagine Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul," singing "America" at the United States Open tomorrow night as Venus and Serena Williams stand by to play in the women's singles final, as they did after Diana Ross exercised her voice here last year.

Venus won that one, a tame affair, almost as dull as Serena's win against Venus in this year's French Open final in Paris, where Serena also supplanted her elder sister as the world No 1. Although Wimbledon inspired the siblings to go for each other's throat, at least metaphorically, with Serena victorious, four Williams triumphs in the last five Grand Slam championships (Jennifer Capriati intervened in Australia) seems a phenomenon too far.

"I think," Amelie Mauresmo ventured, "it's going to get boring to see always the same final, but I can't speak for the public. To me, it gets a little bit irritating, because you want to go out there and beat these guys." Davenport and Mauresmo get that easier-said-than-done opportunity in the semi-finals today: Davenport, the fourth seed, plays Serena, and Mauresmo, the 10th seed, plays Venus. The portents for upsets are not good. Davenport, who has lost eight of her 10 matches against Serena, including two out of three at the US Open, is only just back in her stride after missing half the season recovering from knee surgery. Mauresmo, who has lost her four matches against Venus, is battling fatigue and tradition: no Frenchwoman has ever reached a singles final at the United States Championships.

"I really think it is one of my better achievements just to come back and get to the semis of a Grand Slam," Davenport said. "I was just hoping to play here. I've had a favourable draw against players who haven't been highly ranked, and I'm still a contender. I haven't hesitated in saying the Williams sisters are definitely at a level above everyone else. It's a huge challenge for me. If I lose, I could walk away with that, but I really don't want to go home with that attitude."

Mauresmo is only the second French player to advance to the semi-finals, the other being Françoise Durr, who lost to Billie Jean King in 1967. The great Suzanne Lenglen only played in the championships once, in 1921. Her first-round opponent, Eleanor Goss, of the United States, withdrew from the match because of illness, and Lenglen, who had whooping cough, retired in the second round when losing, 6-2, 40-0, to the American Molla Mallory. American reporters nicknamed the French diva "Cough and Quit" Lenglen.

By defeating Jennifer Capriati in the quarter-finals, Mauresmo denied the tournament its first all-American women's semi-finals since 1981. Does she have the wherewithal to prevent Venus from progressing to a third consecutive Grand Slam final? "I'll try," Mauresmo promised. "Physically, I wasn't feeling so well when I played Jennifer. Playing Venus is going to be very tough, but I will take my chances, that's for sure."

Andre Agassi was talking about safety pins yesterday, though not in relation to changing the nappies of his son, Jaden Gil. "The first time I ever played Lleyton [Hewitt], he was wearing a safety pin in his shorts to hold them up," Agassi said. "I'm not kidding. I actually think there was a safety pin on each side." That was in Adelaide, Hewitt's home town, in January 1998, when the skinny Australian recorded the first of his four wins against Agassi. Hewitt has also won the last three, including last month's quarter-final in Cincinnati, a confidence-booster for their US Open semi-final tomorrow.

"I was coming back from 140 in the world at the time I played Lleyton in Adelaide," Agassi recalled, "and I think he was around 110. I didn't believe that he was my opponent. He just seemed like he had had a couple of strings hanging from his shoes. He was very young and just went out there and ended up playing a great match. That was my first tournament in 1998."

Hewitt, now 21, the Wimbledon champion, defending US Open champion, and the world No 1, has become hotter and his tennis is better. The admiration he had for Agassi in boyhood has become mutual. "His overall movement and shot selection are particularly impressive," the 32-year-old Agassi said. "He's a disciplined tennis player. He makes good decisions out there." Tomorrow's contest is their first at a Grand Slam. "He's in great shape, I don't care what age he is," Hewitt said. "I can't recall too many matches that Andre's lost because of his fitness. I beat him a couple of weeks ago in Cincinatti, but we both can throw all those past results out the window."

Sjeng Schalken, of the Netherlands, seeded No 24, advanced to the semi-finals last night, defeating Fernando Gonzalez, of Chile, the 28th seed, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6. Schalken won the fifth-set tie-break 7-2, to earn a match against either Peter Sampras or Andy Roddick.

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