Serena Williams survives Open scare

Defending champion Serena Williams survived a first-set scare from Jelena Dokic today before charging into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open with a 7-6 (7), 6-0 victory.

Defending champion Serena Williams survived a first-set scare from Jelena Dokic today before charging into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open with a 7-6 (7), 6-0 victory.

Williams held off three set points in the tiebreaker in which Dokic rallied with five straight points after trailing 4-1. The second set was anticlimactic, with Dokic unable to win a game.

It was the end of an emotional run for Dokic, whose father was barred from the Open after creating a disturbance in the players' lounge.

Also moving into the quarters were top-seeded Martina Hingis, who completed a match that was delayed because of Sunday's storms, beating No. 11 Sandrine Testud 6-2, 6-1. It was her 12th consecutive victory and sixth this year against the French player, who has never defeated her.

Next for Hingis is former champion Monica Seles, who reached the quarters Sunday night by defeating old foe Jennifer Capriati.

Elena Dementieva also advanced, defeating former NCAA champion Lilia Osterloh 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5). She gets No. 10 Anke Huber, who moved on when French Open champion Mary Pierce pulled out after one set, unable to overcome recurring pain from a shoulder injury that sidelined her most of the summer.

Pierce, seeded No. 4, asked for a medical time-out trailing 5-4 in the first set against Huber. After the trainer massaged her right shoulder, she returned to center court to serve. But she double-faulted on set point, giving Huber the set, 6-4.

Pierce immediately walked to the chair and retired from the match.

"The day before yesterday, after my match with Lisa Raymond, I was 100 percent," Pierce said. "In doubles it got sore and it was sore today. Every serve I hit it got worse."

Pierce won the French Open in June, beating Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and Conchita Martinez in the last three matches. Since then, she has played just two matches, losing in the second round at Wimbledon before taking the rest of the summer off because of an irritated rotator cuff.

"I saw it right in the first service game," Huber said. "It's hard to play when you see her not 100 percent."

Play began Monday in hot, muggy conditions similar to Sunday when two rain delays stretched matches well into the night. The most compelling match came when No. 3 Magnus Norman finished on his knees, barely surviving a marathon in which he beat Max Mirnyi 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (9).

From the time the first ball was struck to the final point in the fifth-set tiebreaker, Mirnyi and Norman spent 4 hours, 6 minutes on the court throwing haymakers at one another, and another four hours waiting for the weather to clear.

It was compelling tennis, perhaps the first match that reached that level in this year's final Grand Slam event.

"It was unbelievable. I have no words for it," said an exhausted Norman. "I got through, that's the important thing. I'm just happy I won."

Earlier in the evening, Seles and Capriati faced off in a resumption of what many thought might have been one of the great rivalries in women's tennis if off-court problems had not interrupted their careers.

So much has happened to them since their magical semifinal at the Open in 1991. But for one night, at least, Seles took Capriati back in time, defeating her 6-3, 6-4.

Nine years ago, they were kids - Capriati 15 and Seles 17 - and viewed as the future of American women's tennis. Seles captured a third-set tiebreaker that day and went on to win the championship, beating Martina Navratilova.

"I really don't think about that much anymore," Capriati said. "I think it's kind of annoying a little bit, to tell you the truth."

Seles recalls it more warmly.

"I think it's the first time in women's tennis you had such hard hitters," she said. "It changed the face of women's tennis."

On an unpleasant night that left them both drenched, there were few reminders of the tennis they once played at center court.

"She was just hitting them full speed," Capriati said. "She served really well. It was tough for me to break every time. That put a little more pressure on my serve."

A year ago, they played in the round of 16. After Capriati lost, she finished the day in tears, trying to bury her troubled past.

"I think she's found some peace," Seles said. "I think she's changed a lot in a year. It's great to see that. I'm probably the same. I'm pretty even through the hard times and through the good times."

Venus Williams extended her winning streak to 23 matches with a 6-2, 6-2 rubout of Magui Serna. It took the third-seeded Williams just 53 minutes to move into the quarterfinals, where she will meet No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, who eliminated former champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-3, 6-2. It was Tauziat's first victory over Sanchez-Vicario after 11 consecutive losses

On the men's side, No. 6 Marat Safin survived the longest day of tennis, beginning at 11 a.m. then sitting through the sudden disappearance of his game as well as two long rain delays before finally beating Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (5).

Safin started the match dressed all in black and ended it some 6½ hours later all in white, wearing borrowed pants and socks after the two rain delays, the first one 1 hour, 19 minutes, then after 28 minutes of play another delay of 1 hour, 40 minutes, this one in the midst of a fifth-set tiebreaker.

When play resumed, Safin completed his victory, built on 25 aces and despite 64 unforced errors.

"Finally, I made it," he said. "I am happy."

No. 12 Juan Carlos Ferrero also waited out the rain for his 7-5, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-6 (6) victory over Roger Federer.

"I think I had a little bit of luck in the tiebreak," he said. "It's no great days for the tennis when is rain."

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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