Originally created 09/01/02

Top-seeded Hewitt, Seles, Venus Williams win



NEW YORK -- The rematch was satisfyingly similar for Lleyton Hewitt, and without the controversy.

The defending champion beat James Blake 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, exactly one year after Hewitt won another five-set match known as much for the Australian's comments as his comeback from a 2-1 deficit in sets.

A year ago in the second round, Hewitt was called for two foot faults by the same linesman, then approached the referee.

"Look at him and look at him," Hewitt said of Blake and the linesman, who are both black. "You tell me what the similarity is. Get him (the linesman) off the court."

Hewitt offered a written apology and said he and Blake get along well.

The crowd favored Blake on Saturday, but Hewitt said, "I just block it out." Of the controversy, he said, "I try to block everything out and use my positive energy."

After the match, Hewitt removed his cap and shook hands at the net with Blake, who congratulated him and said, "Sorry about some of the crowd," Hewitt recalled. "I didn't hear much. I was pretty focused."

The tournament's top-seeded player had his hands full with Blake, seeded 25th. But with the final set even at two games each, Hewitt won the next two games at love before allowing just one point on his service in the next game to take a 5-2 lead.

Blake held service but quickly fell behind 40-0 in the decisive game. Blake did save two match points, then Hewitt won with his 15th ace of the match.

"I felt like I did a great job throughout the match, but I just played one really bad game," Blake said of the sixth game of the final set when he didn't get a point on his own serve.

Blake had 86 unforced errors to 40 for Hewitt.

Off the court, a German man who spent the last year pursuing top-seeded Serena Williams around the world was arrested at the tournament and charged with stalking her. Albrecht Stromeyer, 34, was taken into custody after a police officer spotted him watching Williams through a fence at the U.S. Tennis Center, police spokesman Detective Louis Camacho said.

Authorities said Stromeyer had been following Williams around the world since June 2001.

On the court Saturday, Williams' sister Venus and Monica Seles advanced to the fourth round. And Andre Agassi, seeded sixth, beat Ramon Delgado 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

Seles overcame a second-set swoon and a windy day to advance to the fourth round with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 win over qualifier Yoon-Jeong Cho. Then, two-time defending champion Williams beat Martina Muller 6-1, 6-2 in 41 minutes.

"It seemed to go a little quickly, but I guess that's a nice thing," Williams said.

Seles almost had the same experience. She was within two points of winning, leading 5-1, 0-30 in the second set. Then Cho took the next four points to start a seven-game winning streak that gave her a 1-0 lead in the third set.

"My brain went away from the court," the sixth-seeded Seles said.

It was a reversal of Seles' previous match when she was within two points of losing to Barbara Schwartz in the second set before winning a tiebreaker and easily taking the third set.

Williams, seeded second, will face 14th-seeded Chanda Rubin, who beat No. 21 Lisa Raymond 7-6 (2), 6-4. In beating Muller, Williams was outstanding at the net and her serve topped out at 116 mph.

"The whole time she was looking for a way to get into the match. I wasn't able to give her that chance," Williams said.

Seles, the two-time champion and two-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, finally regained her touch Saturday by holding her serve in the second game of the third set, then breaking Cho's when the Korean hit a backhander into the net.

Seles held service in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead and increased that to 5-3 with Cho serving. Seles won the first two points of that game, lost the next, then reached her first match point after Cho hit a forehand long. Cho then hit a forehand wide.

Seles could breathe easier after a seemingly smooth win turned into a struggle. She committed 34 unforced errors compared with Cho's 33. But she reached the fourth round for the eighth straight year.

"If I'm mad, the only person to be mad at is myself," Seles said. "It's so windy out there. It's such an equalizer. You can't time the ball. It makes it very difficult."

In another match, seventh-seeded Kim Clijsters beat Vera Zvonareva 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

On the men's side, 14th-seeded Jiri Novak won when No. 22 Marcelo Rios retired with a right knee injury before the third set after falling behind 6-3, 6-3. Novak's next opponent is Hewitt.

On Friday night, Pete Sampras looked more like the dominant player who won the tournament for the fourth time in 1996 than the fading star who hasn't won an event since his Wimbledon title in 2000.

"It's the U.S. Open. This is what I play for," Sampras said after improving to 18-0 in night matches in the Grand Slam event. "Being No. 1 is over. I still feel like I've got it out there."

Sampras, whose streak of six consecutive year-ending No. 1 rankings ended in 1998, beat Denmark's Kristian Pless 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Sampras had 21 aces, won 86 percent of the points in which his first serve went in and faced only one break point, saving that.