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1999 Wimbledon

Teen queens II

Stevenson, Lucic advance to semifinals

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Posted: Friday July 02, 1999 06:12 PM

  Alexandra Stevenson Alexandra Stevenson's professional debut has been a smashing success. AP

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- American Alexandra Stevenson, just over a month out of high school, made history Friday by reaching the Wimbledon semifinals with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory over 16-year-old Australian qualifier Jelena Dokic.

Stevenson became the first woman qualifier to reach the Wimbledon semifinals in the tournament's 113-year history in a match played over two days because of rain Thursday.

Dokic would have made the same history had she won.

In the other women's quarterfinal, 17-year-old Mirjana Lucic of Croatia overcame Nathalie Tauziat, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Tauziat served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but Lucic won the last three games to take the match.

"This is the best win so far in my career -- she's such a great player," said Lucic after her victory.

The young Croatian's best Grand Slam singles performance to date was reaching the third round of the U.S. Open. She also won the Australian Open doubles title last year with Martina Hingis, two months shy of her 16th birthday.

Lucic, ranked No. 134 in the world, now faces her childhood hero, Steffi Graf, in the semifinals on Saturday. She insists her game will not be affected by sentimentality.

"She was always my favorite player," says Lucic, "but she definitely will not be my hero on Saturday.

"I've played her twice before, and lost both times, but I'm ready for this one now. I will fight as much as I can because I want to win. Steffi is beatable. Everybody is beatable."
Mirjana Lucic Mirjana Lucic must defeat Steffi Graf, her childhood idol, to reach the singles final. AP  

Stevenson, who cracked 15 aces in her win, plays fellow American Lindsay Davenport in Saturday's other semifinal.

Stevenson, 18, has been surrounded by controversy throughout the tournament with her mother, Samantha, alleging racism and lesbianism on the WTA Tour.

She has also been caught up in questions about her parentage. A birth certificate obtained by The Associated Press lists her father as Julius Winfield Erving II, the same formal name of basketball great Julius "Dr. J" Erving.

Erving first denied the allegations, but on Friday he admitted to the The Associated Press that he was indeed Stevenson's father.

The American was also initially classified as an amateur, although Wimbledon officials later gave her professional status. She is guaranteed of winning $114,704 for reaching the semifinals in her first tournament as a professional.

The Belgrade-born Dokic, leading the second set 5-1 and serving at 30-40, won three straight points when the match was resumed Friday on Court 1 after a wash out Thursday on Court 2.

Neither the American nor the Australian played well early in the third set as Stevenson broke in the second game with Dokic breaking back in the fourth to level at 2-2.

Eventually Dokic's unreliable serving let her down as the powerful, 6-foot-1 American began cracking her vicious one-hand backhand and spotting her 110-mph serves.

Dokic double faulted five times in the third set. She also had five double faults losing the first set.

Stevenson all but closed out the match in the sixth game when she again took advantage of Dokic's poor serving to break again and lead 4-2. They each held their next two service games with Stevenson claiming the match when the Australian hit a forehand long.

Related information
Julius Erving says he fathered tennis phenom
Wimbledon: Rain holds, semifinals set
Downpours finally get best of Stevenson, Dokic
Alexandra Stevenson says the focus on her parentage hasn't affected her tennis. (89 K)
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