Notes and quotes from the US Open

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The Independent Online

Playing in the humidity of the U.S. Open, interrupted twice by rain and stretched to a fifth-set tiebreaker against Sebastien Grosjean, Marat Safin encountered a haberdashery problem.

Playing in the humidity of the U.S. Open, interrupted twice by rain and stretched to a fifth-set tiebreaker against Sebastien Grosjean, Marat Safin encountered a haberdashery problem.

He had run out of dry socks.

In the dressing room, waiting for the rain to stop, he sought some help, first from Jeff Tarango after the first rain delay and then sending someone to find old pal Nicolas Kiefer after the second one.

"I didn't want to open his bag," Safin said.

Kiefer, who had already won his match against Sjeng Schalken, was located, supplied the spare socks and Safin went back to the court. "I was lucky," he said.



South Korean qualifier Hyung-Taik Lee prepared for his round of 16 match at the U.S. Open with Pete Sampras on Sunday with some home cooking in the predominantly Korean neighborhood of Flushing, about 10 minutes from the National Tennis Center.

Lee, accompanied by his coach and a TV crew, visited two restaurants and mingled with residents of the area.

"The people there recognized him and asked for his autograph," said Chris Kim, a Korean TV producer who is serving as Lee's translator at the Open.

Lee dined on sushi, Kalbi (Korean barbecue) and Kimshi (pickled cabbage). He told Kim he always eats Kalbi before his matches. "He says it is where he gets his strength," the producer said.



Defending champion Serena Williams led the women's field at the U.S. Open to 507 aces through the first week, nearly as many as the 515 the women players had in this Grand Slam event a year ago.

Williams had 22 aces, one more than Magui Serna's 21 and three ahead Lindsay Davenport's 19.

Chase Manhattan Bank is donating $50 for each ace by a woman in the tournament to fund Chase Tennis Camps for Girls, a program providing free tennis lessons for New York City girls ages 10-14. This year's donation is at $25,350.

The bank donated $25,750 last year and has committed more than $75,000 since the program began in 1997.



Donald Trump is willing to put up $1 million for a winner-take-all modern battle of the sexes between John McEnroe and Venus Williams.

For the moment, though, Venus' father and coach, Richard Williams, says he's not interested.

After reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Sunday, Venus was asked about the Trump bid.

"Right now, I'm just really focusing on trying to win this U.S. Open more than anything, just have a good result here, just competing with women," she said. "At some later date, I'll be ready to think about competing with men. At this point, I'm ready to just play the Open."

McEnroe tried to stoke the fire.

"I knew Richard was a smart guy and this only reinforces that fact," McEnroe said. "Richard knows it's best to keep his daughters away from Johnny Mac."

In 1973, Bobby Riggs challenged Billie Jean King to a man vs. woman match that packed the Houston Astrodome. King won easily and Venus Williams remembered that.

"I think that back in the '70s, Billie Jean King did it the right way," she said.



The Chase Championships, final tournament of the women's tennis season, will be leaving Madison Square Garden after this year.

The event, held at the Garden under a number of sponsors since 1972, is moving to Munich beginning in 2001.

"We are disappointed to see the Chase Championships leave the world's biggest stage and largest media market," said Joel Fisher, senior vice president of MSG Sports. "We have enjoyed our long-running relationship with the WTA Tour and wish them future success."

Fisher said the Garden hopes to announce a replacement tennis event "in the very near future," and reportedly is negotiating with International Management Group, which represents a number of top players.



It has been a frustrating summer for Tim Henman, who was seeded 11th at the Open but was eliminated in the third round, beaten by Richard Krajicek 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.

"Sums up my Grand Slams really this year," Henman said after the game early Sunday. "I played a lot of good tennis, but it's frustrating to lose all four of them in five sets."

Henman was beaten by Chris Woodruff in a fifth set at the Australian Open, by Fernando Vicente in a fifth at the French and by Mark Philippoussis in a fifth at Wimbledon.

"I played some really, really good tennis, a continuation of the way I played all summer," he said.



For most of Sunday, the only completed match at the National Tennis Center was Nicolas Kiefer's 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Sjeng Schalken. Just after they finished, it began to rain.

Marat Safin and Sebastien Grosjean were 4-4 in their fifth set. After a rain delay of nearly 1 1/2 hours, play resumed, but only long enough for them to reach a tiebreaker. Rain returned and the match was delayed again, this time with Safin leading the tiebreaker 5-4.