Withdrawals and upsets dominate at Indian Wells
Updated: Friday March 16, 2001 1:00 AM
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) -- Venus Williams, scheduled to play her sister Serena in Thursday's Masters Series semifinals, withdrew at the last moment because of tendinitis in her right knee.
The announcement of Williams' withdrawal, made just as she and Serena were to take the court for their evening match, drew loud booing from the crowd of some 10,000 in the main stadium.
Venus Williams had shown no signs of the injury when she beat Elena Dementieva 6-0, 6-3 in Wednesday's quarterfinals. She said the knee began bothering her warming up for the semifinal and "I was moving like a grandma."
"I made every effort to be on the court, stretching, warming up and taping, seeing the doctor," said Williams, who said she decided she couldn't play about 10-15 minutes before the match was to begin.
"I don't like to play with pain because it can make it a lot worse," she said.
Asked if she would have played the semifinal had it not been against her sister, Venus replied, "No, I don't think so."
She limped slightly as she left the interview room.
Serena will play Kim Clijsters, who upset Hingis 6-2, 2-6, 6-1, in Saturday's final.
Serena was surprised Venus withdrew.
"To be honest, I'm just as shocked as you," she said. "I hit a bit with Venus before the match."
Asked if her sister was limping then, Serena said: "She could hardly hit, just slice and dropshot."
Serena was in the locker room getting ready for the match, which would have been just the sixth time the two have played as pros, when she learned Venus was pulling out.
"I asked her if she was OK. Her eyes were a little watery," Serena said. "I just wanted to know if she was all right. She said, 'Yeah.'
"She's just been having some knee problems."
In the men's draw, Jan-Michael Gambill, who won at Delray Beach, Fla., last week, stunned Kuerten 7-6 (5), 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals.
Fourth-seeded Andre Agassi outlasted Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to also move into the quarterfinals, and Patrick Rafter beat defending champion Alex Corretja 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Third- seeded Pete Sampras also advanced, beating 16th-seeded Sebastien Grosjean of France, 6-1, 7-6 (7)
Gambill, from Colbert, Wash., won his eighth consecutive match while ending Kuerten's win streak at 14 matches.
Hingis' loss ended her string of five consecutive finals, a span in which she won three times.
Clijsters, a 17-year-old from Belgium, was 47th in the world rankings in 1999 and is assured of at least moving to No. 13 with her performance at Indian Wells.
"That's one of the top 10 players I see in the future, for sure," Hingis said. "She basically didn't really have a weakness today."