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Tennis: Davenport waits out the rain

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posted on Sep, 9 2004 @ 12:17 PM
Lindsay Davenport is two victories from a second U.S. Open title and the No. 1 ranking.

After waiting out a day of rain, Davenport beat Shinobu Asagoe of Japan 6-1, 6-1 in just 46 minutes Wednesday night to reach the Open's semifinals in a match that began with about 100 people in the seats at 9,645-capacity Louis Armstrong Stadium.

They were supposed to start at 11 a.m. in Arthur Ashe Stadium, but steady showers delayed the beginning until 7:29 p.m. That forced organizers to shift the schedule, with four quarterfinals - two men's and two women's - in action simultaneously around the National Tennis Center.

"It's not a total shock to tennis players that we have to go through this," Davenport said. "At this point, I just didn't care if there were 100 people there or 10 people, I just wanted to play."

Davenport's semifinal opponent will be No. 9 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated No. 14 Nadia Petrova 7-6 (4), 6-3. It means both women's semifinals will be United States vs. Russia: No. 8 Jennifer Capriati meets No. 6 Elena Dementieva in the other.

"I don't have much publicity, I am not Sharapova," Kuznetsova said, referring to Wimbledon champion Maria. "People do not know me as much. They look in the paper and see Kuznetsova and say, 'She's seeded, she must be good."'

The biggest showdown of the day, between two-time champion Andre Agassi and No. 1 Roger Federer, began with only about a third of the 23,239 seats filled by fans with parkas, hats and umbrellas. Federer was leading 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 when rain returned and halted play as Agassi served at deuce in the first game of the fourth set.

No. 5 Tim Henman led No. 22 Dominik Hrbaty 6-1, 7-5, 4-5 and was serving at love-15 when their match was interrupted.

Only two dozen fans made the trek across the grounds to Court 11 for the start of the quarterfinal between Kuznetsova and Petrova. It was so empty that when Petrova slapped the strings of her racket after a missed shot, it sounded like a violin - it was that easy to hear.

Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers, was among those watching the two Russian women play.

"It's like when you go scout a kid at a high school game or in the summer leagues, there aren't a whole lot of people there," he said. "It's an interesting environment to see a match that means so much."

Davenport got to the grounds around 9 a.m. She spent the day trying to sleep, doing crossword puzzles, visiting with family and eating.

And when it was time to play, she was ready.

Davenport won the first four games of the match, then went ahead 3-0 in the second set. She finished with a 16-3 edge in winners and never faced a break point while extending her winning streak to 22 matches.

Davenport had more trouble with the fans drifting into the seats.

"They just kind of kept coming right when I was in the line of my toss," she said. "I just asked if they could maybe bring some more ushers out, even if there weren't that many people."

Davenport's three Grand Slam titles include the 1998 U.S. Open, and she is trying to become the first woman to go six years between championships at the same major.

She won four consecutive hard-court tuneup tournaments before coming to Flushing Meadows. If she captures the Open title, Davenport would move up from No. 4 in the rankings to No. 1 and replace 2003 champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, who lost to Petrova in the fourth round. Otherwise, Amelie Mauresmo, who lost in the quarterfinals, will take the top spot.

Davenport, who already had brief stays at No. 1, in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002, completely dominated No. 62 Asagoe, the lowest-ranked quarterfinalist at the Open since No. 66 Venus Williams made it all the way to the final in her Open debut at age 17.

Davenport has made it to at least the semifinals at the Open seven of the past eight years.


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