Rusedski storms into last eight

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The Independent Online
Greg Rusedski's marvellous United States Open continued yesterday when he advanced to the quarter-finals with straight sets win against Daniel Vacek, of the Czech Republic.

Britain will be represented in the last eight of the men's singles here for the first time since 1984, when John Lloyd was defeated by Jimmy Connors. Lloyd was also the last British man to reach a Grand Slam singles semi- final, advancing to the final of the 1977 Australian Open.

The Canadian-born Rusedski followed a familiar pattern yesterday, relying on his serve while working steadily to a first set tie-break, and then bringing his improved groundstrokes into play. He won, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2, finishing the job with his third serve of the match timed at 140 mph.

An American reporter made the point that Rusedski does not appear to have a British accent. "It's my mother who's English," Rusedski responded. "I've got an English girlfriend, I've lived in England for seven years and wew [the British] have been going through a hard time the last couple of days."

Age and experience will contribute to what promises to be an interesting conclusion to the women's singles this week.

The quarter-finals find Martina Hingis and her doubles partner, Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, on opposing sides of the net. Both had comfortable victories yesterday. Hingis, the world No 1, defeated the unseeded Florencia Labat, of Argetina, 6-2, 6-2, and Sanchez Vicario ended Autralia's prospects with a 6-1, 6-2 win against Rachel McQuillan, who eliminated Conchita Martinez in the third round.

Jana Novotna, who has experienced the frustration of losing in two Wimbledon singles finals, and the Olympic champion Lindsay Davenport, who is also striving to fulfil her potenial in the Grand Slams.

Novotna, the No 3 seed, proved too sharp yesterday for Davenport's American compatriot, Mary Joe Fernandez, whose performance was hampered by a stomach injury. Novotna won, 7-5, 6-4.

Davenport overwhelmed Magui Serna, an 18-year-old Spanish left-hander ranked No 49. The Californian No 6 seed rattled through the first set in 22 minutes without conceding a game, easing up only slightly to win, 6-0, 6-3.

"Every time I've been in the quarter-finals before, I've never really been in the match," Davenport said. "Graf killed me once. Conchita [Martinez] beat me at Wimbledon and killed me at the French. I think this time with Novotna I'm going in with a bit of confifence - I've beaten her twice, I haven't lost to her, and I'm playing well."

"So am I," Novotna countered. "I didn't do well in our previous two matches, but we'll see who is going to be better. We will go after the weaknesses. But, know, [the match] doesn't bother me at all. I don't see any problem coming up."

Amanda Coetzer, the diminutive South African who eliminated Steffi Graf at both the Australian and French championships, has yet to make a major breakthrough in one of the Grand Slams.

Striving for an opportunity to meet Moncia Seles in the quarter-finals, the fifth-seeded Coetzer was defeated by Romania's Irina Spirlea, 7-6, 6-4.

"I don't think I did anything wrong," said Coetzer, whose game relies on having the consistent speed and stamina to retrieve shots. "I think tactically she [Spirlea] played a really good match. She didn't go for too much like she has done in the past."

Spirlea, who defeated the 16-year-old Anna Kournikova in the second round, acknowledged that she would need all her power and patience to overcome Seles. "I have never beaten Monica," she said. "but last time we had a tough match."

Sandrine Testud, who stands between the 17-year-old Venus Williams and a place in the last four, attributes her success to the American's namesake, the Roman goddess of love.

The 25-year-old from Lyons has played with remarkable confidence since setting up home in Rome with her Italian boyfriend, Vittorio Magnelli. The combination of hard work and romance, she says, has worked wonders.

"I think you have to prove that life is also important if you want to play good tennis," she said. "I've been working hard the last few months, and it's paid off. I've been able to beat top ten players in the Grand Slams. When I get on the court I really think I can win, against anybody."

Testud, it may be remembered, eliminated Monica Seles in the third round at Wimbledon, 8-6 in the final set. While preparing for the US Open, the Frenchwoman added Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to her CV, defeating the Spaniard San Diego. Her campaign here gathered momentum with a straights sets win in the second round against Iva Maloli, the No 4 seed and French Open champion.

Although she continues to be coached by Philippe Duxin, of the French Tennis Federation, Testud's move to Rome has prompted a mixed response in the Italian media. Attention has been drawn to the irony that Vittorio Magnelli, who is in charge of Italian women's tennis, has so far only managed to bring a French player through the top 20.

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