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GogoGirl
Jul 27th, 2002, 05:00 PM
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/07/27/SP26396.DTL


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Venus bests Anna; No. 3 Seles ousted

Ron Kroichick, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, July 27, 2002




Friday night's marquee match at the Bank of the West Classic had all the trappings of a big-time event. Capacity crowd. An unmistakable buzz in the air. Tennis balls zooming back and forth with significant velocity.

Venus Williams and Anna Kournikova showed little interest in finesse in their quarterfinal showdown. Booming serves led to resounding returns. Powerful ground strokes brought more powerful ground strokes.

That's a game Williams seldom loses. Kournikova threatened to push the match to three sets -- and provided some compelling theater along the way -- but she ultimately fell 6-3, 6-4 before 4,506 spectators at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Williams will meet Lisa Raymond in today's semifinals. Raymond pulled off the tournament's biggest upset earlier Friday, cruising to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 3 seed Monica Seles.

The Kournikova-Williams clash was a promoter's delight -- the most glamorous player on tour against the top seed. So what if Kournikova is still searching for her first tournament title? So what if she showed up winless in seven career matches against Williams?

"All she has to do is go for broke against me," Williams said. "She has nothing to lose."

Kournikova acknowledged taking that attitude against the world's No. 2 ranked player. It showed in the way she routinely smacked the ball with abandon -- occasionally leading to impressive winners, occasionally leading to careless errors.

"It's not like I'm going to overpower her on every single point," Kournikova said. "I was going for it on my serve. I think she was sometimes surprised and made some errors on the returns.

"Today, I actually felt like I was in control on some of the points. That's a great step for me."

Any sense of control in the first set vanished when Williams cranked up her serve. She unleashed three consecutive aces at one point (spanning two games), rocketing serves clocked at 116, 110 and 112 miles per hour.

Kournikova hopped to life in the second set, breaking Williams' serve to move ahead 4-2. Visions of third-set drama faded when Williams promptly broke Kournikova's serve right back, then pulled away.

"At that point, I realized I was pushing a lot of balls back," Williams said. "I wasn't putting any pressure on her. Once I realized that, I knew I had to put a little more mustard on it."

Earlier in the day, Seles made an abrupt exit from the tournament, providing little resistance as Raymond rolled in straight sets. Then, afterward, Seles sounded not at all like the world's fourth-ranked player.

She struck a tone of utter resignation, as if she had just fallen to a Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova hybrid.

"Whenever I had chances, I hit a lot of unforced errors," Seles said. "Lisa played really well. I just lost to a better player."

Raymond did play impressively in collecting a rare victory against an elite player. Raymond, who turns 29 next month, has achieved far more success in doubles (27 tour titles) than in singles (three titles).

She's ranked No. 28 in the world in singles, high enough to earn a nice living -- more than $4 million in career winnings -- but not high enough to make an impact in the game's upper echelon. Raymond candidly called Friday's win her biggest of the year.

Asked where that level of play came from, Raymond joked, "My pocket." Then she turned introspective and portrayed a long quest to conquer self-doubt in big matches.

"I know it's in me, it's just a matter of someone pulling it out of me," Raymond said. "It's a matter of believing I can play that way against the top players. The last couple of years, I just didn't believe I should be on the same court as them."

Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters will meet in the other semifinal. Davenport continued her comeback from knee surgery with an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 victory over Jelena Dokic in Friday's first quarterfinal match. Clijsters, the tournament's defending champion, beat Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-3.



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Highlights
-- FRIDAY'S SINGLES RESULTS: Lindsay Davenport (2) d. Jelena Dokic (5) 6-2, 6-2; Kim Clijsters (4) d. Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-3; Lisa Raymond d. Monica Seles (3) 6-4, 6-2. Venus Williams (1) d. Anna Kournikova 6-3, 6-4.

-- FRIDAY'S DOUBLES RESULT: Kournikova and Meghann Shaughnessy (3) d. Amy Frazier and Abigail Spears 6-1, 6-4.

-- TODAY'S MATCHES: Starting at 1:30, Williams vs. Raymond; Raymond/Rennae Stubbs (1) vs. Kournikova/Shaughnessy (3).

-- TONIGHT'S MATCHES: Starting at 7:30, Kim Clijsters vs. Davenport; Janette Husarova/Conchita Martinez vs. Amanda Augustus/Brie Rippner.

GogoGirl
Jul 27th, 2002, 05:03 PM
"COME ON ANDRE"

Btw - in my TV Guide Comcast Sports Net is showing a men's match at 4:00. Hope it's Andre's.




Agassi reaches semis for fourth consecutive year in LA

7/27/02 8:50 AM



By BETH HARRISLOS ANGELES (AP) _ So far, Andre Agassi's preparations for next month's U.S. Open are on schedule.Playing his first hardcourt tournament of the summer, Agassi got his toughest test yet against fifth-seeded Gustavo Kuerten in Friday's quarterfinals at the Mercedes-Benz Cup.

Agassi survived, winning 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus.`

`It was high standard straight from the start,'' Agassi said. ``He went through great patches where he didn't miss many serves.''Kuerten held a 17-11 advantage in aces for the match, but Agassi didn't miss many returns when he got his racket on the Brazilian's serve.`

`He's like a genius on the court,'' said Kuerten, who lost a three-setter to Agassi in last year's semifinals. ``It's something you can't practice or try to get.

Some guys are born with it.''Anticipating a high level of play on both sides, Agassi said he wished the matchup had come in the semifinals or final.An appreciative and vocal crowd of 7,115 jammed stadium court, including Serena Williams, the world's top-ranked women's player, actor Matthew Perry and figure skater Katarina Witt.``

This is as good a crowd as you could hope for,'' Agassi said. ``They were rockin.''

'The intensity level peaked in the third set. Agassi and Kuerten exchanged service games at love and stayed on serve until the seventh game.Kuerten slid and nearly fell chasing a forehand to set up break point. Agassi smashed a winner off Kuerten's second serve, then let out a satisfied yell and pumped his fist as he took a 4-3 lead.It was the only time Kuerten was broken in the match.`

`It was my biggest match this year,'' said Kuerten, who had hip surgery in February and was off for two months. ``A match like this, you give it everything you can. I tried to fight to the end. I'm a little sad it ends today.''

Kuerten survived two match points and seven deuces to hold serve and trail 5-4.But Agassi served two consecutive aces to set up his third match point, and won with a forehand volley off a short return.`

`His intensity on the court is amazing,'' Kuerten said of Agassi. ``From the first point to the end, he's focused and with so much energy. He's special to the game.''

Agassi, seeded second, rallied from 3-1 down to win the first-set tiebreaker, hitting a forehand winner off Kuerten's short service return.Agassi is 7-4 against Kuerten, with all but one of their 11 career meetings coming on hardcourts.

In Saturday's semifinals, Agassi will meet No. 8 Max Mirnyi of Belarus, who beat Michael Llodra of France 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Fourth-seeded Andy Roddick defeated No. 7 Xavier Malisse of Belgium 6-4, 6-4.Roddick's victory set up an All-American semifinal against Jan-Michael Gambill, a 7-5, 7-6 (5) winner over Germany's Nicolas Kiefer.

Roddick, 19, improved to 4-0 in his career against Malisse, a semifinalist at Wimbledon.``My confidence doesn't waver too much,'' said Roddick, who had six aces to Malisse's nine. ``I believe in myself and the weapons I have.''

Roddick won two of the final three games and advanced to his seventh semifinal this year. He's won titles in Memphis and Houston in his second year on the ATP Tour.

LAKERS RULE
Jul 27th, 2002, 05:52 PM
not if i get there first