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Tuesday, September 04, 2001

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Ferrero, Ivanisevic and Seles sink

NEW YORK, SEPT. 3. Top seed Gustavo Kuerten rallied from a two- set deficit against a frustrating power server to reach the fourth round of the US Open tennis tournament, escaping disaster on a day of upsets at the Grand Slam event.

Brazil's Kuerten outlasted hard-serving Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-7 (5-7), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 here yesterday, firing 33 aces with one double fault and hitting an amazing 104 winners with only 13 unforced errors.

``Things were difficult for me. I had to pull out everything I had,'' said Kuerten. ``I just gave everything I learned all these years in the match to win. At the end it was a great payback to have this tremendous feeling,''

Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, fifth seed Juan Carlos Ferrero, nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles and Wimbledon runner-up Justine Henin were eliminated on the first day of major surprises.

Kuerten, who won his third French Open title in June, struggled to break Mirnyi, missing on his first 10 break-point opportunities, the last seven of those coming in the third set.

``We both played a great match,'' Kuerten said. ``One had to win. I was lucky it was me. I feel very happy. I'm enjoying it a lot.''

Mirnyi hit 75 per cent of his first serves through four sets but got tired and Kuerten got the key break in the fourth game of the fifth set on a forehand shot that hit the net cord, sending the ball over Mirnyi and in.

Kuerten's second and final service break came on match point with a backhand Mirnyi could only volley into the net to end the duel after three hours and 31 minutes.

``There's a reason he's no. 1,'' Mirnyi said. ``He has won many matches of this type. He's on top of his game. If he wasn't doing this, he wouldn't be No. 1. I wasn't surprised for him to keep fighting.''

Mirnyi had 22 winners to five double faults and 72 winners against 25 unforced errors, but broke Kuerten only once, that on a backhand volley winner after 81 minutes in the 11th game of the second set.

`Guga' served well and I didn't have many opportunities to break him,`` Mirnyi said. ''The first four sets were even. He got on my serve a little bit and won the fifth.`` Kuerten will face Spain's 40th-ranked Albert Costa for a berth in the quarterfinals. Costa ousted Ivanisevic, the Croatian 15th seed, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-2).

Ivanisevic fired 24 aces but made 50 unforced errors. ''A lot of easy mistakes I made,`` Ivanisevic said.

''I tried my best. I just missed some easy shots. I did my best. I can't be unhappy. But nobody likes to lose.``

Costa, who improved to 4-1 against Ivanisevic, lost in the first round here five times until reaching the second round last year.

''I played a great match,`` Costa said. ''I played with so much confidence. It was a tough tournament for me so many years. I lost five times in the first round and was so disappointed. But now I'm very happy.``

Spanish Armada fails

Spain's Ferrero fell 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7) to 39th- rated compatriot Tommy ''mosquito`` Robredo. ''I was more tired than him and I made some mistakes in the tie- breaker and that was the key to the match,`` Ferrero said.

The rest of the US Open's Spanish Armada, a record six men in the third round, sank as Australian fourth seed Lleyton Hewitt beat Albert Portas 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 and French 12th seed Arnaud Clement dumped 17th seed Carlos Moya 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.

And American 18th seed Andy Roddick ousted 11th seed Alex Corretja 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Roddick, at 19 the youngest man remaining, fired 16 aces and connected on 62 per cent of his powerful first serves. He gets Robredo next.

''I have a chance in every match now,`` Roddick said. ''I can hit with power. But it makes me feel good to know I grinded out a match.``

Seles makes exit

Sixth seed Henin blew an early lead and lost to 10th seed Serena Williams 5-7, 0-6, while seventh seed Seles made her earliest US Open exit since 1990, losing to 37th- ranked Deja Bedanova 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Seles committed eight double faults and 51 unforced errors, the last coming when she netted a backhand to end it.

''It was just one of those matches,`` Seles said. ''Didn't feel comfortable out there from the first ball. I made too many errors to stay competitive.``

''You can't really describe it, to win such a big match in such a big tournament,`` Bedanova said. ''When you go off the court, it feels amazing.``

Her next foe is World No. 1 Martina Hingis, who last won a slam at the 1999 Australian Open. Hingis took 12 of the final 13 games to defeat 14th seed Jelena Dokic 6-4, 6-0.

''She started playing very hard and very fast,`` Hingis said. ''I had to get everything back I could and run. I scrambled back. Her game fell apart when she slowed down and I was able to do some things.`` Hingis trailed 3-0 but broke in the fifth game to begin the rout.

''I started to miss a litttle bit more. I was going for too much,`` Dokic said. ''I didn't expect her to play as well as she did. Mentally I went down, lost my serve. Everything went down the hill after that.``

Third seed Lindsay Davenport, last year's US Open runner-up, beat Russia's Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 0-6, 6-3, to book a quarterfinal rematch with Serena Williams, whom she beat last year on the way to the final.

''I'm going to be ready this year,`` said Williams, 6-2 lifetime against Davenport. ''We know each other's game very well.``

Williams kept alive the chances for a final against sister Venus, the defending champion, by dumping the 18-year-old Belgian Wimbledon runner-up.

''I hurt myself in the beginning by making too many errors,`` Williams said. ''She played a good match. She did her best. I just did a bit better.`` Henin, who had no aces but seven double faults and only six winners, buried her head in her hands after squandering a 3-1 lead to lose set one.

''When I lost the first set, mentally it was very hard to come back,`` she said.

Paes-Raymond duo moves up

Second seed Leander Paes and American Lisa Raymond moved into the third round of the mixed doubles. The Indo-American duo defeated Joshua Eagle of Australia and Barbara Schett of Austria 7-5, 6-3.

Paes-Raymond overcame Els Callens and Tom Vanhoudt of Belgium in the first round 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Top seed Todd Woodbridge and Rennae Stubbs of Australia also won their second round match beating Lucas Arnold of Argentina and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2, 6-2.

Williams sisters ousted in doubles

Venus and Serena Williams, who teamed up to win the 1999 U.S. Open doubles crown, were ousted 6-2, 4-6, 7- 5 by American Chanda Rubin and Els Callens of Belgium in the third round.

Playing before a boisterous crowd packed into the grandstand court yesterday, Callens and Rubin, in only their second tournament as a doubles team, claimed victory in one hour and 54 minutes.

The Williams sisters are the last two winners of the women's singles crown at the Open with Venus having lifted the title last year and Serena the year before.

The results (prefix denotes seedings):

Women (fourth round): 1-Martina Hingis (Swi) bt 14-Jelena Dokic (Yug) 6-4, 6-0; 10-Serena Williams (US) bt 6-Justine Henin (Bel) 7-5, 6-0; Daja Bedanova (Cze) bt 7- Monica Seles (US) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

3-Lindsay Davenport (US) bt 21-Elena Likhovtseva (Rus) 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.

Men (third round): 1-Gustavo Kuerten (Bra) bt Max Mirnyi (Blr) 6- 7 (5-7), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; Tommy Robredo (Esp) bt 5-Juan Carlos Ferrero (Esp) 7-6 (7- 5), 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1); 7-Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus) bt David Nalbandian (Arg) 3-6, 6-4, 6- 2, 6-2; 18-Andy Roddick (US) bt 11- Alex Corretja (Esp) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2; 12-Arnaud Clement (Fra) bt 17- Carlos Moya (Esp) 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-0; Albert Costa (Esp) bt 15-Goran Ivanisevic (Cro) 6- 4, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-2).

16-Tommy Haas (Ger) bt Jiri Novak (Cze) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; 4-Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt 25-Albert Portas (Esp) 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

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