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Capriati, Hewitt make stealthy progress

NEW YORK, SEPT. 2. At their peaks, Jennifer Capriati and Lleyton Hewitt attracted all sorts of attention at every tournament. At this U.S. Open, they're almost an afterthought.

That's fine for the former No. 1 players and Grand Slam champions, especially while they're winning.

With Serena Williams' outfits, Maria Sharapova's aura, Lindsay Davenport's 18-match winning streak, and Justine Henin-Hardenne's title defence, Capriati hasn't gotten a lot of notice.

Same for Hewitt, mostly overlooked amid all the fuss about Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer.

Fourth-seeded Australian Hewitt won his first-round match on Wednesday, defeating Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.

"There's definitely been matches over the last few weeks that I feel like I've played as well as I've probably ever played," Hewitt said.

"You know, that's the good thing about tennis: You never are a perfect player, there's always something you can work on," he said. "I still had little areas in my game that I could work on at that stage, even when I was No. 1 and won here and Wimbledon."

Capriati, a three-time Grand Slam winner but never past the semifinals at Flushing Meadows, moved into the third round by beating Magui Serna of Spain 6-0, 6-2.

"I mean, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, especially lately," Capriati said. "But realistically, probably, I am playing good enough."

Serena Williams had an easy match, as expected, in defeating fellow American Lindsay Lee-Waters 6-4, 6-3 in the second round.

Williams had a harder time getting her attire exactly right. Before the match, she approached the chair umpire and wondered whether someone could retrieve her purse from the locker room. Seems she had left her earrings behind.

"I consider myself an entertainer," she said. "I remember always thinking of myself as a broader picture as opposed to just your normal athlete. I don't think I've ever been your normal athlete. I've always had something different going on in my life."

After wearing a pleated denim skirt on Monday, Williams came back with something a little more catchy, black hot pants and a studded tight tank top. She warmed up to the 1975 song `You Sexy Thing.'

"I represent all females out there who believe in themselves. It doesn't matter what you look like; it's all about having confidence," she said.

Haynes upsets Maleeva

Confidence is exactly what America's Angela Haynes had as she upset 22nd-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-3 to reach the third round.

The 19-year-old Haynes grew up hitting tennis balls on the same courts in California where Serena and Venus Williams started.

Even if she loses to No. 16 Italian Francesca Schiavone in the third round, she's guaranteed to make $40,000.

"Here is the best place to win, get back to where I was and maybe better," Haynes said. "Definitely, it is my biggest win, but I can't dwell on this match. I really have to stay focused here."

Mauresmo escapes

Second-seeded Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, the Olympic silver medallist, hung on to beat 105th-ranked Julia Vakulenko of Ukraine 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

"I started very slow in the first set," Mauresmo said.

Federer moves up

Top-seeded Federer rolled into the third round with a 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1 victory over Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.

Athens bronze medallists No. 14 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile and Australian No. 17 Alicia Molik both lost, and so did three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil. Mark Philippoussis of Australia, runner-up at the Open in 1998 and Wimbledon last year, quit with a hip injury in the fifth set against Russia's Nikolay Davydenko.

Navratilova advances

Martina Navratilova won again at the U.S. Open, teaming with Lisa Raymond for an easy doubles victory in the first round on Wednesday. The fifth seed pair defeated Julie Ditty and Samantha Reeves 6-3, 6-2.

At 47, Navratilova has won the women's doubles title nine times at the U.S. Open, mostly recently in 1990 with Gigi Fernandez. She lost in the final last year with Svetlana Kuznetsova, and lost with Raymond in the Olympic quarterfinals last month. — AP

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