Originally created 08/31/97

Teens taking over in Open



NEW YORK -- The revolution Martina Hingis started is turning into a teen takeover of women's tennis at the U.S. Open.

Hingis stayed on target to capture her third Grand Slam title of the year at the still-tender age of 16 as she moved into the Open's round of 16 Saturday with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Elena Likhovtseva.

That put at least three teens in the final 16, with 15-year-old sensation Mirjana Lucic of Croatia hoping to join them with an upset of No. 3 Jana Novotna on Saturday night.

The only one of the new breed sporting a belly button ring is Olga Barabanschikova, the 17-year-old from Belarus. She served for the match against Florencia Labat at 5-4 in the second set, but let it slip away as Labat scored a 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-1 victory. Labat will next face Hingis.

A day after Venus Williams, who just turned 17, advanced with an upset of No. 8 Anke Huber, Spain's 18-year-old Magui Serna knocked off another seed, No. 16 Kimberley Po 6-4, 6-3.

No teen but a fresh face in the late rounds of a major, No. 100 Rachel McQuillan of Australia also scored an upset when she beat former Wimbledon champion and seventh-seeded Conchita Martinez 6-2, 7-5. Martinez, who has an injured back that required treatment on court, had trouble chasing down balls.

"Well, they can't stay up there forever," Hingis said of the older generation of players. "Everything gets faster in women's tennis. Everyone is improving. You can see the changes in three months, half a year. The girls are getting more athletic. Everyone wants to be on the top.

"In every sport, I think, the best age for a woman to be on the top, where she is physically really ready, is from 16 until 22 or 23."

That doesn't mean the older players should be counted out quite yet. Former champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Mary Joe Fernandez cruised with straight-set victories into the fourth round, where No. 2 Monica Seles and No. 5 Amanda Coetzer had already safely arrived.

Four-time men's champion and top seed Pete Sampras is 26 years old and in the best shape of his life as he pursues his 11th Grand Slam title. He ran into little resistance against Alex Radulescu to move into the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Sampras hasn't dropped a set so far in the tournament and has fended off the only two break points on his serve.

Next up for Sampras is Petr Korda, who stretched him to five sets at Wimbledon but never broke his serve. Sampras lost serve only twice in seven matches en route to winning Wimbledon for the fourth time.

"That was a tough match against Petr at Wimbledon, the toughest I had, but I'm serving well here," Sampras said. "If my serve is on, I'm going to be tough to beat."

Sampras won't be facing a rematch with Alex Corretja later in the tournament. The No. 6 seed from Spain, who pushed Sampras to the limits of his endurance in a five-set epic a year ago, came up with a strained thigh muscle and defaulted his third rounder against former Wimbledon champ Richard Krajicek.

Corretja, who aggravated an old injury in the leg on Thursday, warmed up for a few minutes in an effort to play, but could barely move.

"When I push off, I just feel a lot of pain on my leg," Corretja said. "I think it's not worth it to walk out on the court just to play three games and retire."

Krajicek, though benefiting from the walkover, regretted losing a chance to play Corretja.

"It's good to get a test," he said. "This would have been my first high-ranked opponent. I haven't beaten too many high-ranked players the last couple months. I need a win like that to boost my confidence."

Daniel Vacek bumped off another men's seed, No. 14 Mark Philippoussis, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 6-2. Though Philippoussis served some his 25 aces in the 130 mph range, he couldn't cope with Vacek's variety and touch.