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Capriati and Henin-Hardenne beat rain to advance

By Ossian Shine
September 02, 2003 13:17 IST
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Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin-Hardenne were the only players to complete victories at the US Open on Monday as persistent rain all-but obliterated play at the hardcourt Grand Slam.

Organisers finally called off play at 2334 (0334 GMT) after a frustrating day of drizzle and delays.

Capriati beat Russian 11th seed Elena Dementieva 6-2, 7-5 in a match lasting one hour 12 minutes but spanning six hours 37 minutes because of interruptions.

Second seed Henin-Hardenne finally got on court around 2230 and beat Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to reach her first quarter-final at the event.

All men's matches were cancelled earlier in the evening.

Spectators for the Flushing Meadows evening session were told they could exchange their tickets for days later in the week after the session -- due to start at 1900 -- had failed to commence by 2145.

Day session tickets holders had earlier been afforded the same privilege after a virtual day eight washout at the $17.1 million Grand Slam when 73 matches had been scheduled.

Just two were finished creating a backlog for later in the week when more rain is predicted.

In the event, Henin-Hardenne and Safina were fortunate to get their match played as drizzle and mist swirled around the Arthur Ashe stadium into the night.

PLAYERS' INSISTENCE

It was only at the players' insistence that tournament referee Brian Earley had not sent them back to the locker room.

"We're not going to get this match going," Earley told colleagues on his walkie-talkie at 2215 as the players warmed up. "I am calling them off"

Earley called them to the side of the court at the end of their warm-up as the crowd howled and screamed their protest.

Rain continued to fall and the players sat in their chairs under umbrellas as Earley talked to colleagues before allowing the players to continue.

"She (Henin-Hardenne) said to me 'no it's fine, it's okay," Earley later said.

"If they're happy to play then I'm happy to let 'em."

Henin-Hardenne will face either Mary Pierce or seventh seed Anastasia Myskina in the quarters.

Myskina was leading 4-2 when play was called off.

CAPRIATI ANNOYED

Earlier Capriati reached the quarter-finals in a match that began during the day session but spilled over into the evening after two delays.

"It was so tough, in the end it was getting annoying," Capriati told reporters.

"It's hard to play matches like that, because your rhythm is broken up by the delays.

"You worry about whether you're going to get the match in, or have to come back the next day. I was in a rush to get it finished."

Capriati will meet either Japanese 15th seed Ai Sugiyama or Francesca Schiavone, the 29th seed from Italy in the last eight.

They were 6-6 going into the tiebreak when they were forced to leave court.

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Ossian Shine
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