NEW YORK -- Serena Williams fractured her racket on the court as her game fell apart, and Lindsay Davenport emerged from the shadows as a forgotten former champion to a berth in the U.S. Open semifinals.
Williams, the defending champion who was so eager to meet her sister, Venus, in the final, succumbed to her own impatience and Davenport's deep, sizzling groundstrokes in a 6-4, 6-2 rout Wednesday night that took everyone by surprise.
Everyone except Davenport.
The 1998 champion never fell for all the hype over a Williams sisters final, never worried about her record against Serena -- five straight losses over the past three years.
"It feels great to get over the hurdle of beating her," Davenport said. "It was a big match to get through, but I'm only into the semis and I look to keep going.
"There's no revenge. I'm going to lose to her again and I'm going to beat her again."
Williams said Davenport's performance was "the best she ever played against me. She should take that attitude toward everyone."
Three of their matches were close three-setters, including their semifinal meeting at the U.S. Open last year, and Davenport knew that she could beat Williams if she could hold serve, keep the pressure on her and pin her to the baseline.
That's exactly what Davenport did, and Williams finally cracked at 4-4 in the first set, slapping forehands long on the final two shots of her service game and screaming in frustration as she was broken.
"When I broke her at 4-all it seemed to deflate her," Davenport said. "She had break points and didn't take advantage."
Williams rapped her racket on the court, but not nearly as hard as she did in the next game when she netted a backhand for a second set point. The racket frame broke this time, leading to an automatic code violation for racket abuse, and for all practical purposes her game was undone, too.
Another backhand error by Williams gave Davenport the set, and Davenport went on to win six straight games and take a 4-0 lead in the second set as Williams lost control of her shots. It wasn't a case of Williams simply missing close shots. She was too excited, too caught up in trying to blow Davenport away with power, and she never found a backup plan.
"I played exactly the way I wanted to," Davenport said. "I was aggressive when I needed to be. She thinks she didn't play well. I thought I played well to make her not play well."
Williams never quit, and saved five match points to hold serve to 5-2, but that was her last stand. Never broken in the match, Davenport served it out in the next game.
Williams insisted that she and Venus, the Wimbledon champion who will play Martina Hingis in the other semifinal on Friday, will be in a Grand Slam final together some day.
"It's gonna happen," she said. "Unfortunately, I didn't hold up my end this year. No one wants to see an all-Williams final. Everyone doesn't really like us. Not everyone can like us. It's just a part of life. Not everyone likes Michael Jordan."
Davenport will play Russia's 18-year-old Elena Dementieva, who upset No. 10 Anke Huber 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, in the semifinals.
"She plays it very simple, but she doesn't make a lot of stupid errors," Huber said.
Todd Martin woke at the crack of noon, the roars of the loudest little crowd still ringing in his head.
Martin put on the greatest show of this year's U.S. Open with a comeback from two sets down against Carlos Moya, and hardly anyone saw it -- unless they watched televised replays of his delightfully uninhibited victory lap.
"It was a real drunk sensation," Martin said when he returned Wednesday for practice after going to sleep at about 4:30 a.m. "It's a matter of losing your inhibitions about letting people see what's inside of you.
"You know, it doesn't matter who sees it. It matters what you get out of the experience. What the Nielsen ratings were on the coverage last night is not going to affect how good I felt about it."
For the second straight year, Martin came up with five-set magic, and this time he celebrated as if he had just won the title instead of merely reaching the quarterfinals.
At 1:22 a.m., after 4 hours, 17 minutes of drama Tuesday night, Martin happily smashed his racket on the court and raced around the stadium slapping hands with hundreds of the hardy fans and friends who stayed to watch another remarkable comeback.
Martin's 6-7 (3), 6-7 (7), 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over Moya came one year after a similar comeback from two sets down in the same fourth round against Greg Rusedski en route to the final.
In the quarters, Martin will play another unseeded player, Sweden's Thomas Johansson, who eliminated Wayne Arthurs 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4.
"Thomas is a great player," Martin said. "It's been surprising for me to see him not do as well as he once was doing. But I think we all hit lulls in our careers. I think this is probably the beginning of his next burst."
Australian 19-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, seeded No. 9, beat Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday to become the youngest men's semifinalist since Pete Sampras during his title run in 1990. Sampras was also 19 at the time, but five months younger.
With four tour titles this year and a victory over Sampras on the grass at Queen's Club just before Wimbledon, Hewitt is hardly a surprise to have gone this far at the open. Yet, he said he didn't believe at the start that he had a real shot of winning his first Grand Slam title.
"I didn't come here to win it," he said. "It would probably have been a bit stupid for me to come out and say, `I'm going to win the tournament' when I haven't made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam going into this event.
"That's not really realistic coming here and saying I'm going to knock off Agassi, Sampras, Krajicek, whoever, win this tournament (against) all these great champions who have been in that situation before. I definitely gave myself a chance of making the second week, being seeded here, knowing that these courts do suit my game, with the humidity and the conditions. But it really has been a bonus to make it through to the semifinals now."
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