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Rain Delays Men’s Play At French Open

June 5, 2002

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PARIS (AP) _ Andre Agassi and Juan Carlos Ferrero waited through two rain delays totaling 6 hours, 28 minutes before their French Open quarterfinal was finally postponed Wednesday.

After just 36 minutes of court time, Ferrero led 6-3, 1-0.

Two other men’s quarterfinals were also pushed to Thursday, creating a logjam on center court where both women’s semifinal matches are also scheduled.

After an initial delay of 1 hour, 35 minutes, Agassi and Ferrero finally started their match on center court. But they played for just 23 minutes with Ferrero taking a 5-2 lead before rain chased them off.

After nearly five hours, the skies cleared briefly and play resumed. But, with rain falling, they stopped after just 13 minutes with Ferrero wrapping up the first set and then taking a 1-0 lead in the second.

Agassi motioned to tournament referee Stefan Fransson standing just off the court and they spoke briefly. Fransson then also talked to Ferrero before play was halted again.

``The intention was to play the match in good conditions. I didn’t feel it was good conditions and as far as I could tell, they both agreed,″ Fransson said.

The quarterfinal between No. 10 Sebastien Grosjean and No. 2 Marat Safin and the continuation of another between No. 18 Alex Corretja and No. 22 Andrei Pavel were also postponed until Thursday.

Corretja had a 7-6 (5), 7-5, 4-5 lead when that match was halted the first time Tuesday because of darkness. Pavel wasn’t even at Roland Garros on Wednesday because his wife was expecting a baby, Fransson said.

One men’s semifinalist is set _ No. 20 Albert Costa. The Spaniard won the final 10 games and beat No. 15 Guillermo Canas 7-5, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-0 Tuesday.

On the women’s side, the Williams sisters have made the French Open semifinals for the first time.

``I can play a longer point. I can move OK. I used to practice on clay a lot when I was younger, so I do know how to slide,″ Venus Williams said.

``I always felt like I had the groundstrokes and speed to play well here. More than anything I’m not trying to hit every ball so hard, just keep some in play, move it around, hope for the best.″

But Venus at times did hit it hard _ very hard _ and as usual her 6-foot-1 frame allowed her to track down shot after shot in a 6-4, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Monica Seles. Venus hit a serve at 118 mph.

Serena Williams, meanwhile, hardly worked up a sweat in her black dress, routing 2000 champion Mary Pierce 6-1, 6-1 in 49 minutes, giving up only two points in her final five service games and setting up a showdown with defending champion Jennifer Capriati.

``I just feel like a clay courter,″ said Serena, the champion at last month’s clay-court Italian Open.

Serena Williams must continue her recent run of victories against Capriati if she is to face her sister again in a repeat of last year’s U.S. Open final.

Serena has won four straight matches against Capriati, including three this year. But in their only two Grand Slam meetings, Capriati won both times _ in the quarters of the French Open and Wimbledon last year.

The Williams and Capriati are members of the Who’s Who of women’s tennis. Clarisa Fernandez belongs in a ``Who’s She?″

A 20-year-old left-hander who started playing seriously five years ago, she’s the first unseeded player to make the semifinals at Roland Garros since Capriati 12 years ago.

The 5-foot-10 1/2 Argentine beat countrywoman Paola Suarez 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 to continue an improbable run that has included wins over No. 4 Kim Clijsters and No. 13 Elena Dementieva.

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