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1999 US Open

Teen Machines

Hingis, Venus cruise into high-powered semifinal meeting

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Posted: Wednesday September 08, 1999 12:56 AM

  On a very windy day, Martina Hingis blew past Anke Huber for the ninth time in 10 matches. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Neither seven double-faults by Venus Williams nor a whipping wind that sent shots flying wildly in Martina Hingis' match could keep them from their inevitable rematch in the U.S. Open.

Two years after Hingis thrashed the inexperienced Williams in the final of her Open debut, the two will meet again in Arthur Ashe Stadium, this time in the semifinals.

"Last time, I honestly did not know what I was doing," Williams said of her 6-0, 6-4 loss to Hingis for the 1997 title. "I'm a different player now.

"The key for me is definitely to abandon all unforced errors. In order not to play her and myself, I have to stop making errors."

From 0-2 Tuesday, the top-ranked Hingis won 12 straight games amid stiff gusts to stroll into the semis with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Germany's Anke Huber.

The wind died down a bit after a brief shower in the evening, and the No. 3 Williams unleashed an all-court attack that enabled her to overcome serving woes in a 6-4, 6-3 win against No. 12 Barbara Schett of Austria.

Williams dominated at the net and the baseline in the slugfest against the hard-hitting Schett, punctuating the first set with an overhead that caromed into the stands on set point. The American broke Schett's service three times in the second set, the last time closing out the match with a backhand return that Schett couldn't touch.

Williams, 19, has won only three of her 10 matches against the 18-year-old Hingis.

Hingis couldn't quite get a bead on the balls Huber was sending her way during the first couple of games, and she couldn't tame the shots she was sending back.

Hingis' befuddlement didn't last long, though, as she demonstrated her talent for adjusting to diffiult conditions and outthink opponents.

Players have complained about the wind in the stadium since it opened two years ago. But the remnants of tropical storm Dennis have buffeted the court for several days, making this year's conditions the worst so far.

Magnus Norman retired from his match against Gustavo Kuerten after suffering a back injury. AP  

"She used the wind very well today to her advantage," said Huber, who lost to the Swiss star for the ninth time in 10 matches. "She's just a very smart player, smarter than anybody else on the tour.

"The wind wasn't always against me, but it looked like it. I just overpowered the balls a little bit, made too many mistakes. It was very difficult because I play more aggressive than her. My shots are not as safe as hers. I thought maybe in these conditions, she's going to miss a little bit more, but she just didn't make any easy mistakes or any mistakes at all."

Hingis eschewed modesty and agreed that she probably is the smartest player on the tour, at least when it comes to playing in the wind.

"Some hit the ball hard, some don't. Some are tall," she said. "I have to use other weapons to stay at the top, otherwise I wouldn't be the No. 1 player if I wouldn't think a little bit on court."

Injuries continued to plague the men's draw, already weakened bythe loss of American Pete Sampras and Australia's Mark Philippoussis before the tournament, as Sweden's Magnus Norman becam the seventh man to quit in midmatch.

Norman hurt his back and had to stop after losing the first set 7-6 (7-4) to No. 5 Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, allowing the 1997 French Open champion from Brazil to advance to the quarterfinals against Frenchman Cedric Pioline.

Pioline, who knocked off No. 14 Tommy Haas of Germany 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, reached the Open final in 1993 and at Wimbledon in 1997, but he has never won a Grand Slam tournament.

No. 7 Todd Martin rallied after losing the first two sets to beat No. 9 Greg Rusedski 5-7, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4. Rusedski served for the match in the third and led 4-1 in the fifth set, only to have Martin win 20 of the final 21 points.

In the quarters, Martin will play unseeded Slava Dosedel, who downed Jiri Novak 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.

Norman, who won a tuneup tournament the day before the U.S. Open, was the second Swede to pull out with an injury during this year's event. Magnus Larsson retired from his third-round match with seventh-seeded Todd Martin.

Other men to retire were: Fabrice Santoro of France in the third round; American Jan-Michael Gambill and No. 8 Carlos Moya of Spain in the second round; and defending champion Patrick Rafter of Australia and Julien Boutter of Frane in the opening round.

Related information
Seles stops Capriati; Agassi, S. Williams move to quarterfinals
Racket-ball at U.S. Open
SI's Jon Wertheim: Novotna leaves a champion
The wind is no problem for Martina Hingis. (141 K)
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