Originally created 07/03/97

Two Brits in Wimbledon quarters



WIMBLEDON, England (AP) - Tim Henman, buoyed by a rollicking Centre Court crowd, ousted defending champion Richard Krajicek today, putting two British men in the quarterfinals for the first time in 36 years.

In a match that had been suspended Tuesday after three sets, Henman picked up where he left off and completed a 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory.

He needed 36 minutes today to join fellow Brit Greg Rusedski in the quarterfinals. It's the first time two British men have reached the final eight since Mike Sangster and Bobby Wilson in 1961.

Henman is the first British player to beat the defending Wimbledon champion since Roger Taylor downed Rod Laver in the fourth round in 1970.

"I'd say today, for the sustained quality of tennis, this is the best I've ever played," said Henman, who also reached the quarterfinals last year. "Playing the Wimbledon champion you have to play pretty well."

In a country desperate for its first men's champion in 61 years, Henman has generated huge support from the Wimbledon crowds.

"Everyone that's been out there knows they are continually behind me, lifting me to greater heights," he said. "They give you that confidence and keep willing you on. It's also tough for my opponents. They know every point of mine will be shouted about."

The only break of the set came in the fifth game, when Henman - trying to guess where Krajicek was serving rather than reacting at the last second - came up with strong returns and Krajicek missed four straight volleys to lose at love.

Henman saved a break point with a service winner in the eighth game. Two games later, he served out the match at love, finishing with a forehand volley that wrong-footed Krajicek.

Henman walked off to a standing ovation. Among those in the crowd were former President George Bush and his wife Barbara Bush in the Royal Box.

In another men's fourth-round match that was resumed today, top-seeded Pete Sampras was facing Petr Korda. Sampras led 6-4, 4-2 when play began today.

In women's play, unseeded 16-year-old Russian star Anna Kournikova reached her first Grand Slam semifinal when she downed French Open champion Iva Majoli in straight sets.

Kournikova, displaying remarkable poise on Centre Court, won all the big points as she downed the fourth-seeded Croatian 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.

Also advancing to the semifinals was Jana Novotna, who dismissed Indonesia's Yayuk Basuki 6-3, 6-3.

Kournikova could be in line for a semifinal showdown against fellow 16-year-old Martina Hingis, who faced Denisa Chladkova in a later quarterfinal.

In the fourth women's quarterfinal, No. 8 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was up against Nathalie Tauziat.

Majoli served for the first set at 5-3 but unraveled as Kournikova won three straight games. Majoli broke to force a tiebreaker, but Kournikova dominated completely and the Croatian double-faulted on set point.

The two were on serve until the 10th game of the second set, when Kournikova broke to close out the match with a forehand cross-court return.

The Russian turned to her boyfriend, Detroit Red Wings star Sergei Federov, and her mother, Alla, and pushed up both arms in a raise-the-roof salute.

The third-seeded Novotna had been stretched to three sets in three of her four previous matches and, suffering from an aching right knee, had hoped to have Wednesday off.

But Novotna was on top throughout and enjoyed a comfortable straight-set win in 69 minutes over Basuki, playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

"I had the match in control from the beginning to the end," Novotna said.

Novotna, a natural grass-court player, reached the semifinals at Wimbledon for the third time. She was runner-up in 1993, when she sobbed on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent after blowing a big third-set lead against Steffi Graf.

While Germany and Britain have made big breakthroughs at Wimbledon, the Americans have hit a low.

Sampras was the last American in the draw. Even if Sampras advances, it would be the fewest Americans in the quarterfinals since 1913.

"It's unfortunate, but I think that everything goes in cycles, and this was just a bad year for the U.S. here," said Mary Joe Fernandez, the last American woman in the field, after her 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 loss to Jana Novotna.

Three German men - Boris Becker, Michael Stich and Nicolas Kiefer - have reached the quarterfinals for the first time at any Grand Slam in the Open era.

Stich beat Mark Woodforde, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-5; Becker overpowered Marcelo Rios 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5); and Kiefer upset third-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 6-2, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.

Stich, making his last Wimbledon appearance in his retirement year, would love nothing better than to win the title to prove that his 1991 triumph was no fluke.

Stich said he would also be tempted to retire immediately if he does win Wimbledon.

"I would love to win the tournament and say, `That's it, that's the best way to finish it,"' he said.