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Hingis set for Serena

Australian Open pairs confident, cocky duo

Posted: Monday, January 22, 2001

MELBOURNE, Australia -- With characteristic bravado, Serena Williams and Martina Hingis say they're ready for another showdown.

Williams belted winners from all over the court -- even 12 feet behind the baseline -- for an easy victory Monday and a berth in the Australian Open quarterfinals against the top-seeded Hingis.

''I've prepared for it already,'' Williams said. ''My preparation was done before I got off the airplane.''

Said Hingis: ''I'm playing well, so I have the chance to beat anybody out there.''

Williams, seeded sixth, advanced by overpowering Daja Bedanova 6-2, 6-2. Hingis earlier beat Rita Grande 6-0, 6-3.

Neither player has dropped a set. Hingis, seeking her sixth Grand Slam title but first since the 1999 Australian Open, has lost just 12 games in four matches. Williams, the 1999 U.S. Open champion, has lost 19 games.

Hingis took a 5-4 lead in their rivalry by beating Williams en route to the Sydney title earlier this month. Williams then blamed rustiness following a three-month layoff, but she's not using that excuse now.

''I play enough. I win enough,'' she said. ''Obviously I'd like to win more, but a lot of people would kill to do what I've done.''

In another fourth-round match, No. 10 Amanda Coetzer beat Paola Suarez 6-1, 6-4. Coetzer next plays the winner of Monday night's match between No. 3 Venus Williams and No. 13 Amelie Mauresmo.

A doubles match involving Anna Kournikova on Court 1 was briefly interrupted when a 15-year-old boy threw a smoking orange flare on the court. Security grabbed him.

''I was hitting the ball and suddenly something dropped in front of me,'' Kournikova said. ''I just walked away.''

Kournikova had a doubles match interrupted by a streaker at Wimbledon last year.

In men's play, No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 15 Arnaud Clement advanced and will meet in the quarterfinals.

Kafelnikov swept Andreas Vinciguerra 7-5, 7-5, 6-1, while Clement won in straight sets for the fourth match in a row, beating Greg Rusedski 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

Rusedski, who upset No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten in the second round, smacked 19 aces to one for Clement but still lost serve five times.

''I have to give him credit -- he played as well as I've ever seen him play,'' Rusedski said. ''I had a great start to the year, so I have nothing to be negative about.''

Unseeded Carlos Moya, the 1997 runner-up, beat Rainer Schuettler 7-6 (2), 6-3, 6-4.

Monday's quarterfinal pairings were already set. Australia's Pat Rafter, seeded 12th, will face No. 14 Dominik Hrbaty, and No. 6 Andre Agassi will play Todd Martin, who upset Pete Sampras on Sunday. Martin will try to become the first player to beat both Sampras and Agassi in the same Grand Slam tournament.

On the women's side, No. 4 Monica Seles will play No. 12 Jennifer Capriati, and the eighth-seeded Kournikova will face No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, the defending champion.

Serena Williams played her most polished match of the tournament against Bedanova, coming to the net often and slamming winners from both sides. Sprinting across the court on one point, she retreated into the corner 12 feet behind the baseline and belted a running, lunging forehand winner.

Williams smacked 29 winners and eight aces. In the players' box, her family and friends -- already looking ahead to the next match -- sat reading a transcript of the latest Hingis news conference.

Only one of Hingis' matches at Melbourne Park has lasted an hour, and she dispatched Grande in 46 minutes. The Italian won only nine points in the opening set and just 10 in Hingis' eight service games.

The performance did not entirely satisfy Hingis. With an overhead, Grande finally won a game to even the second set at 1-1, and Hingis responded by throwing her racket in disgust.

''I kept lobbing her, and she kept hitting overheads,'' Hingis said. ''I was like, 'OK, one more and I kill myself.' I was getting a little frustrated about that, but overall I played a very good game and came through quite easily.''

The score reached 3-3 before Hingis reasserted her dominance to close out the win. She's trying to reach the final for the fifth year in a row.



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