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Venus loses her glow
No. 1 seed Davenport wins noisy quarterfinal with Williams
Posted: Tuesday January 26, 1999 08:17 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- A furious Venus Williams was fined a break point because her hair beads flew onto the court in a quarterfinal loss to No. 1 Lindsay Davenport at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Davenport won 6-4, 6-0, setting up a semifinal against unseeded Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo. The U.S. Open champion was leading 2-0 with a break in the second set as Williams battled to avoid another.
But on break point Williams smashed down a serve and dozens of the hundreds of tiny multicolored beads she has knitted into her hair scattered onto the court.
Chair umpire Denis Overberg called a point against Williams for causing a disturbance, the rule applying for the second instance where a player drops something on court. A point was replayed at 0-15 in the same game when some beads first fell loose.
She demanded to see tournament referee Peter Bellenger but he backed the umpire and Williams went down 3-0.
During an exchange with Bellenger, Williams screamed, "As if I was doing it on purpose. You see me pulling my hair and pulling them out? This is out of control."
Later she said, "I don't think it was a very fair call. I've never had such treatment before from any other umpire in any other match. I think it was an unfair judgment."
Williams, who refused to shake Overberg's hand at the end of the match, was adamant she would keeps the beads.
"Why should I have to change? I like my hair," Williams said.
Davenport said Williams had been warned she would lose a point after the first incident and backed Overberg's call, saying it was the same as if a player dropped a hat on court.
"You can hear them, and see them a little bit," Davenport said. "I'm not going to say it's a total distraction but it is a little annoying. It's just things flying in the air that you're not supposed to be seeing."
Williams said no opponent had ever complained about her beads falling off.
"I don't think it's a real distraction, I don't think the other player on the other side is able to see it," Williams said. "I think they're focussing on the ball."
The No. 5 seeded Williams threw everything at the cool Davenport but was run down relentlessly by the top seed.
Williams slipped behind 2-1 when she lost her second service game in the first set but had a chance to get back into the contest in the 10th game as Davenport stumbled on serve. Williams had four break points but Davenport held on her second set point.
The second set was dominated by the call against Williams, who refused to shake the chair umpire's hand at the end.
"I think I just played really solid," Davenport said. "I did everything I wanted to do."
Earlier Mauresmo became the only unseeded woman through to the final four.
The aggressive 19-year-old stomped No. 11 seed Dominique Van Roost of Belgium 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) to set up a semifinal against Davenport.
Mauresmo's impressive muscles help her beyond the power they can generate on her service and groundstrokes. They give the 1996 junior French Open and Wimbledon title winner the belief she is much better than her ranking of 29.
"I feel really good these days physically, it gives me confidence," said Mauresmo.
Van Roost, a tiny player in comparison, said Mauresmo played "an amazing match."
"In the second set I think I played perfect but she was just overpowering," Van Roost said. "I was struggling all the time receiving her serve because she was serving too fast for me."
Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, also unseeded, was the first player into the men's semis with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Swiss Marc Rosset.
The men's draw had just three seeds through to the quarterfinals, with much of the gloss disappearing when Andre Agassi was ousted by Vince Spadea on Monday.
Enqvist, who was ranked as high as sixth before ankle surgery last year, extended his winning run to 13 matches in 1999.
"I thought I played really well today. Marc is a tough player and I think today I played my best match so far," said Enqvist, who will meet Nicolas Lapentti in the semis.
Lapentti, a native of Ecuador, won through to the semifinals by knocking out No. 7 seed Karol Kucera of Slovakia.
The No. 91-ranked Lapentti, playing his fourth five-setter in five rounds, won 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 0-6, 8-6 after 3 hours, 18 minutes.
Kucera's exit left No. 10 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 15 Todd Martin, playing a quarterfinal on Wednesday, as the only two seeds left in the men's draw.
Lapentti, cheered on through the first four sets by friend Anna Kournikova, gave an impressive display of power hitting off his forehand until he gave up the fourth without a whimper.
After going down 3-0 with two breaks he quit trying and was booed as he refused to chase simple returns from Kucera.
But Lapentti won the crowd back his way with the first point of the last set, taking it after an epic rally.
He thought he'd gone up a break in the third game when a Kucera second serve at 30-40 was called out by the line judge. The chair umpire overruled and Kucera recovered to hold.
Lapentti finally got ahead in the eighth game when Kucera followed a weak half volley into the net with a double fault
Kucera, nicknamed the "little cat" because his coach is "big cat" Miloslav Mecir, did well to lift himself as he faced defeat, getting his break back with a stunning winner after a long rally.
But Kucera's tiredness showed out again in the last game and Lapentti seized on some weak shots to bang a backhand down the line for the match.
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