Norman survives thriller, Venus wins easily

Storms came and went, day turned to night, and after more than eight hours of playing, waiting and playing again in brutal energy-sapping humidity, Magnus Norman barely escaped the biggest exodus of top seeded men in U.S. Open history.

Storms came and went, day turned to night, and after more than eight hours of playing, waiting and playing again in brutal energy-sapping humidity, Magnus Norman barely escaped the biggest exodus of top seeded men in U.S. Open history.

His red shirt soaked as if he'd been swimming in it, Norman dropped to his knees and pumped his fist over and over after the final point Sunday night in a 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (9) comeback against an inspired but drained and cramping Max Mirnyi.

It was the match of the tournament, 4 hours, 6 minutes on court stretched over a torturous, fatiguing day from early afternoon to nearly 10 p.m., with Mirnyi serving 25 aces to Norman's five and racing to the net 173 times to Norman's 18.

The fans who packed the grandstand court roared all the way, chanting "Let's go Max!" for the pale Belarussian Mirnyi as they urged him toward an upset. But in the end, Norman's tactics paid off as he ripped a final backhand crosscourt that Mirnyi lunged for but couldn't handle.

"It was unbelievable. I have no words for it," Norman said. "I got through, that's the important thing."

A little more than an hour later, rain came again and ended the night with five matches in progress.

The departure of No. 1 Andre Agassi and No. 2 Gustavo Kuerten had already marked the first time the top two seeded men had failed to reach the third round. If Norman had lost, it would have been the first time the top three had faded before the fourth round. No. 4 Pete Sampras is the only other seed left among the top five.

After waiting five hours for thunder, lightning and heavy downpours to subside, Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2, 53-minute romp past Magui Serna after waiting.

The victory extended Williams' winning streak to 23 matches, the longest of the year on the WTA Tour.

"I've had three late days in a row now," Venus Williams said. "I was hoping to play doubles today, but now I have to play tomorrow. It's like I can never get away from this place."

Williams next will play No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, who beat No. 9 Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario for the first time in 12 matches over 11 years, 6-3, 6-2.

No. 6 Monica Seles beat old rival Jennifer Capriati, seeded No. 15, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that was well played but had none of the drama of their first meeting at the U.S. Open in 1991, when Seles won their semifinal clash in a third-set tiebreaker. Seles also beat Capriati in straight sets a year ago.

The weather played havoc with the schedule, twice suspending close matches at pivotal moments and sending frustrated fans and players scurrying for shelter.

Between the deluges, fans saw some of the best young players in men's tennis show off their talents in third-round matches while Williams, Martina Hingis and other women waited to play for berths in the quarters.

No. 6 Marat Safin, a 20-year-old Russian in his first full year of Grand Slam play, served at up to 138 mph (222 kph) as he won the first two sets against France's Sebastien Grosjean, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

But Grosjean suddenly started playing with the baseline ferocity of Agassi, and Safin's game unraveled with unforced errors. Grosjean won the next two sets 6-1, 6-3.

The first cloudburst hit with Safin serving at 4-4, 30-15 in the fifth set, and the rain delay lasted an hour and a half. Safin used the time to shower and put on fresh socks, shorts and a shirt borrowed from other players. When the players returned, they put on a high-quality duel, and pushed the match to a tiebreaker.

Safin, who had already racked up 25 aces, took a 5-3 lead and served to move within a point of victory. But he floated a volley long as rain began to fall again, and the match was suspended once more, this time with Grosjean ready to serve while trailing 5-4.

"I don't like the situation when you stay in the locker room and start to think, 'Oh, my God, I'm down in the fifth set. Tiebreaker is 5-4. I don't know what to do with the ball,"' Safin said. "It's a lot of headache because you don't know. You start to think all the time."

They resumed an hour and 45 minutes later, Grosjean tying it at 5-5, then Safin going to match point at 6-5 with a minibreak on a strong forehand that Grosjean hit wide. Safin didn't wasted that chance, punching a forehand crosscourt that Grosjean hit wide.

Safin's 6-4, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (5) victory in the match, which took 3 hours, 9 minutes to play but stretched over 6 hours, 8 minutes with the rain delays - put him into the round of 16.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Roger Federer of Switzerland and 20-year-old Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain were engaged in their own frustrating confrontation.

When the rain stopped them the second time, the 12th-seeded Ferrero was three points from victory - or three points from a fifth set - as he led 7-5, 7-6 (6), 1-6, with the fourth-set tiebreaker knotted at 4-4 with Federer to serve.

Ferrero will meet Safin in the round of 16.

The only match to finish before the rains came was one between two former U.S. Open boys' singles champions, No. 14 Nicolas Kiefer of Germany and Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands. Kiefer won 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 and will play Norman in the next round.

The day ended the way it began, with play postponed for the night because of another cloudburst with Todd Martin leading Cedric Pioline 7-6 (5), 6-3, 2-0; Hingis leading Sandrine Testud 6-2, 1-0; and Carlos Moya leading Alex Corretja 7-6 (4), 2-1.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot