Hingis advances to semifinals of Australian Open

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Martina Hingis advanced to the Australian Open semifinals Tuesday by winning her hardest match of the tournament.

Hingis beat 83rd-ranked Adriana Serra Zanetti 6-2, 6-3, and now has lost just 14 games in five matches.

Serra Zanetti, in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time, made Hingis run and hit more winners. But the Italian offset them with errors.

"I didn't know exactly what to expect," Hingis said. "She's not such a known player on the tour. It was tougher than maybe I expected.

"It was probably a good match for me to get a speedy player. "Sometimes those down-the-lines I didn't expect."

Serra Zanetti also surprised Hingis with a few drop-shot winners. After one, Hingis spread her arms in exasperation.

The Australian Open was the first major Hingis won, as a 16-year-old in 1997. She followed that with two more titles here, but lost in the 2000 and 2001 finals and has not won a Grand Slam event since the 1999 Australian.

Hingis is seeded third, the first time since the 1997 French Open that she hasn't been No. 1 for a Grand Slam event. She fell from the top ranking after 73 weeks when an ankle injury required surgery last October.

She next plays the winner between Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Venus Williams and Monica Seles, a four-time Australian Open champion.

This was Hingis' first match against Serra Zanetti on the pro tour, but the Italian remembers their meeting in their junior days, when she was 14.

"Before that match, I was thinking, 'I can't lose to a 10-year-old,' but I did," Serra Zanetti said.

She was the last unseeded player surviving in the women's draw.

On the men's side, however, only four of the top 26 remain.

No. 16 Thomas Johansson advanced with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over fellow Swede Jonas Bjorkman, who had beaten No. 6 Tim Henman, No. 12 Guillermo Canas and No. 24 Thomas Enqvist.

Johansson will meet the winner of No. 26 Jiri Novak and unseeded Stefan Koubek in his first Grand Slam tournament semifinal.

The tournament turned into one more disappointment for Pete Sampras, whose winless streak now stretches to 21 events.

Marat Safin hurt Sampras with his power game early and then held off a late comeback bid by the Grand Slam king to advance to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (8) victory Monday night.

Safin saved two set points in the final tiebreaker before finishing Sampras off.

Safin next plays Wayne Ferreira, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 9-7 winner Monday over Albert Costa in a match that took 4 hours, 10 minutes.

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