Corretja moves into semis

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The Independent Online

Alex Corretja reached the French Open semifinals with a methodical, straight–set victory today over unseeded Swiss teen–ager Roger Federer, 7–5, 6–4, 7–5.

On a chilly day at Roland Garros, Corretja, the 1998 runner–up, took advantage of his experience and consistency to beat the talented but less steady Federer.

In the semifinals, the Spaniard will meet the winner of the highly anticipated match later Wednesday between Andre Agassi and home crowd favorite Sebastien Grosjean.

Agassi was being cheered on by former President Bill Clinton, who entered the stadium to hearty cheers from the French fans just as Agassi had taken the first set, 6–1.

Corretja, seeded 13th, broke Federer's serve for a 4–3 lead in the first set, but the Swiss player broke back at love for 4–4.

At 5–5, Federer, suddenly plagued by unforced errors, lost his serve and threw his racket on the ground. Corretja held to take the set, 7–5.

In the second set, both players had trouble holding serve. Federer scored an early break for 2–0, but Corretja broke back and then held for 2–2, then broke again for 3–2. After another exchange of service breaks, Corretja took the set at 6–4.

In the final set, Corretja again broke for 1–0. Serving for the match at 5–4, he faced a rejuvenated Federer, who broke him for 5–5. After breaking back for 6–5, Corretja blew three match points before sending a backhand down the line on his fourth.

Federer said later he'd missed many opportunities to break Corretja.

"I don't know why I didn't take this opportunity today," he said. "I really had many breakpoints, and it was not my day."

On the women's side, Thursday's semifinal showdown between Martina Hingis and Jennifer Capriati is worthy of the final. It pits two women whose tennis careers have become inextricably linked to the clay courts of Roland Garros.

For Capriati, Paris is where it all began. In 1990 she became the youngest semifinalist in Grand Slam history and was propelled to the forefront of the tennis stage.

She failed to reach the final that year, and for the next decade was unable to get past the semis in any Grand Slam event.

She finally fulfilled her teen–age promise four months ago by winning the Australian Open, capping a comeback from tennis burnout and personal problems.

Hingis was her unlucky opponent.

"I'll have that in my mind," said Capriati, recalling her straight–set win in Melbourne. "I think that will be an advantage."

While Capriati is trying to compensate for 11 years of lost opportunities, Hingis is motivated by more recent disappointments.

Like Capriati, the Swiss world No. 1 made her mark at the French at a young age, reaching the final in 1997 when only 16. She lost to Iva Majoli, blowing a chance to take a sweep of all four Grand Slam titles in the same year.

In 1999, Hingis was three points from victory when Steffi Graf made a comeback and claimed her sixth Roland Garros crown.

Two years on, the French remains the only Grand Slam title Hingis hasn't won.

She will need all her energy against Capriati, one of the biggest hitters in the women's game.

"(Capriati's) just a bigger, stronger girl," she said. "I think I've improved since the last time I played her."

Hingis will undergo her first real test of the tournament against the American, who is only the second seeded player she has had to face.

Capriati, seeded fourth, has the advantage of winning a tough quarterfinal against No. 6 Serena Williams, who took her to three sets for the first time this tournament.

Whoever wins Thursday will be the favorite to take the title.

The other semifinal is between two Belgian teen–agers who had never before reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, seeded 12th and 14th.

French Open Results

Men Singles Quarterfinals

(10) Sebastien Grosjean (Fra) def. (3) Andre Agassi (USA) 1–6, 6–1, 6–1, 6–3.

(13) Alex Corretja (Spa) def. Roger Federer (Swit) 7–5, 6–4, 7–5.


Women Doubles Quarterfinals

(1) Lisa Raymond (USA) and Rennae Stubbs (Aus) def. Sandrine Testud (Fra) and Roberta Vinci (Ita) 7–5, 6–7(6), 6–4.

(2) Viginia Ruano–Pascual (Spa) and Paola Suarez (Arg) def. (10) Anke Huber (Ger) and Barbara Schett (Aut) 3–6, 6–2, 6–3.

(16) Jelena Dokic (Yug) and Conchita Martinez (Spa) def. (8) Nicole Arendt (USA) and Caroline Vis (Neth) 6–3, 6–4.

Justine Henin (Bel) and Elena Tatarkova (Ukr) def. (4) Kimberly Po (USA) and Nathalie Tauziat (Fra) 6–3, 7–5, 11–9.


Mixed Doubles Quarterfinals

Janette Husarova (Slovak) and Petr Pala (Cze) def. (1) Rennae Stubbs and Todd Woodbridge (Aus) 7–6(5), 2–6, 6–1.

Elena Likhovtseva (Rus) and Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) def. Alexandra Fusai and Jerome Golmard (Fra) 6–3, 6–4.