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Dokic strains Serena Williams in first-set tiebreaker before folding

Sampras advances to quarterfinals

Posted: Tuesday, September 05, 2000

NEW YORK -- Surrounded by 23,000 empty seats and buffeted by fierce winds, a no-nonsense Pete Sampras put an end to the U.S. Open fairy tale of South Korea's Hyung-Taik Lee.

Sampras, who holds a record 13 Grand Slam titles, found himself under extraordinary pressure Monday in the first set against Lee, a qualifier playing in his first major tournament.

A nearly full house of fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium delighted in Lee's nervy, sturdy play amid the sweltering heat and humidity when play began during the afternoon. But after a cloudburst suspended the match with Sampras leading 7-6 (4), 3-1, it took 2 1/2 hours before play resumed in chilly, windy weather.

The stadium was virtually empty then, except for a couple hundred fans as the night crowd drifted in, and Sampras was in no mood to let the party linger much longer. He unleashed a 132 mph ace on his first serve and closed out the set by breaking Lee at love.

Lee, a strong, quick baseliner who was unruffled by Sampras or the occasion, coped better with the four-time champion and the swirling breezes in the third set before finally going down 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4.

Sampras advanced to the quarterfinals, where he will play Richard Krajicek, a 7-6 (11), 6-4, 6-1 victor over Dominik Hrbaty. Krajicek, the only player to beat Sampras at Wimbledon during the past eight years, holds a 6-3 lifetime advantage over him.

''He's a guy who gives me a lot of trouble,'' Sampras said.

Lee gave Sampras a lot of trouble at the start. Sampras was impressed not only by Lee's return of serve, but his ability to stay calm in the biggest match of his life.

''He was cool as a cucumber,'' Sampras said. ''He's a good player. ... He wasn't overwhelmed by the situation, playing me on center court. He came out and held his own.

''But after I got the first set, I started to settle down and started playing a little bit better and just went from there to deal with the rain. And then coming back, dealing with the wind and the cool weather, it was a completely different match from the first set.''

Sampras fended off three break points in the sixth game of the first set and won the tiebreaker only when Lee inadvertently touched the net with his foot as he rushed in for an overhead on a short half-volley by Sampras. Lee thought no one would notice. Sampras didn't, but the umpire did.

''After I missed that, I was a feeling a little down and I lost a lot of momentum,'' Lee said through an interpreter. ''I wasn't myself at the beginning of the second set.''

Still, Lee thought the tale of the tiebreaker and his foot touching the net might be a good story for his grandchildren some day.

''I think I would exaggerate a little bit, and say I was winning and I touched the net and I happened to lose,'' he said with a laugh.

Lee didn't yield on his serve until a marathon game in the second set. Trailing 1-0, Lee finally was broken on the eighth break point and 22nd point of the game when he hit a backhand wide off a strong forehand by Sampras. It was the 11th break point of the match for Sampras, and the first he was able to capitalize on.

Lee said he was impressed by Sampras' serve, his calm composure and his volleys, but wasn't overawed. In fact, he came away with his confidence boosted.

''At first, when I would play a ranked player, I would be more concerned with his number and I would be a little afraid and I might consider myself a coward,'' Lee said. ''But after this experience, I feel that I can play anyone on any given day. I've earned that kind of confidence.''

One call made all the difference for defending women's champion Serena Williams in a tense tiebreaker and broke the spirit of Jelena Dokic.

The way they reacted to that call, and the shift in momentum it heralded, told much about the qualities of a champion that Williams possesses, and that the sad-eyed Dokic still must find while she deals with her father's troubles.

Williams rallied from that point -- the second of three set points she saved in the first-set tiebreaker -- to thrash Dokic the rest of the way, 7-6 (7), 6-0, Monday and move into the quarterfinals against No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, who beat Justine Henin 6-0, 6-4.

Williams has won five of the six matches she's played against Davenport, including the semis here last year and Los Angeles recently.

''She goes for it,'' Davenport said. ''If you step back just an inch against her, and she has a short ball, she puts it away ... at least against me on the big points. It's tough to come out of nowhere and win a Grand Slam like she did last year.''

Williams and Dokic had gone toe-to-toe throughout the first set, neither yielding on serve, until they arrived at 6-6. Williams had already pumped in 10 of the 14 aces she would accumulate, but the smaller and quicker Australian was even more efficient without the same power, giving up fewer points on serve.

Williams jumped to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, only to see Dokic snap back with five straight points for a 6-4 lead. A solid forehand volley allowed Williams to save the first set point. Then came the critical call.

At the end of a long rally that had both players scurrying side to side, Dokic drilled a backhand crosscourt that a linesman signaled wide to make the score 6-6. Dokic argued to no avail with the umpire, then walked with her head and shoulders slumped to the other side of the net.

She would get another set point by running down a poor drop shot by Williams and whacking it crosscourt for a winner, but that was the end of Dokic's threat. Williams saved that third set point with a backhand volley that Dokic couldn't handle, then won the next two points, punctuating a strong backhand return with a loud ''Yesss!'' when Dokic netted the ball.

That was all Williams needed as she watched Dokic tank the second set, winning only three points on serve, spraying five times as many unforced errors as she had the first set, and looking eager to catch the next flight back to Australia to prepare for the Olympics.

Shortly after the Williams-Dokic match, rain delayed play for the second straight day. When the matches resumed, Todd Martin finished off a 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 victory over 10th-seeded Cedric Pioline.

Martin won two sets and was leading in the third Sunday night before rain postponed the end of the match.

In another match that resumed from Sunday, unseeded Carlos Moya beat Spanish compatriot Alex Corretja, the No. 8 seed, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Also moving into the quarters were top-seeded Martina Hingis, who completed a match that was delayed because of Sunday's storms, beating No. 11 Sandrine Testud 6-2, 6-1. It was her 12th consecutive victory and sixth this year against the French player, who has never defeated her. Hingis next plays Monica Seles.

Elena Dementieva also advanced, defeating former NCAA champion Lilia Osterloh 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5). She gets No. 10 Anke Huber, who moved on when Mary Pierce, the French Open champion, pulled out after one set, unable to overcome recurring pain from a shoulder injury that sidelined her most of the summer.



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