It has been 13 years since an American-born woman has won the U.S. Open, and 11 years since one has made it to the championship match. Not since Chris Evert won in 1982 and reached the finals in 1984 has the United States had something to cheer about in its Grand Slam tournament final.
The prospects of it happening this year are slim, too, but Friday, St. Louis native Amy Frazier jolted everyone when she upset No. 6 seed Mary Pierce, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), to be one of five American-born players still alive here after five days of play.
It was a stunning moment on Stadium Court, when Frazier, ranked No. 21, won before a boisterous crowd that voiced its mixed emotions. There is no more sympathetic player than Pierce, whose struggles to escape her tyrannical father are well-chronicled. But in the American psyche there is also no more appealing competitor than an underdog like Frazier.
Fellow American Chanda Rubin, 19, was delighted by Frazier’s performance as she sat in the locker room waiting for her own match to start. Rubin, Frazier, Mary Joe Fernandez, Zina Garrison-Jackson and Nicole Arendt are the remaining American-born women’s players here. The United States has one other representative in the women’s field - recent naturalized citizen Monica Seles, who was born in Yugoslavia.
“I thought it was a good match up from the beginning,” said Rubin, who pounded Gigi Fernandez, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, of Frazier’s triumph. “It’s kind of nice to see somebody take advantage of a situation like that and just go out and play well.
Rubin will have an opportunity to duplicate the excitement in her fourth-round match, when she faces co-No. 1 Steffi Graf in a match that Rubin said she believes she can win. On the men’s side of the draw, several Americans begin the big Labor Day weekend at the National Tennis Center in fine fashion, including No. 2 seed Pete Sampras.
Sampras took 92 minutes Friday night to atone for last year’s first-round loss to Jaime Yzaga by demolishing the unseeded Peruvian 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Joining Sampras, the No. 2 seed, in the third round were No. 3 Thomas Muster, No. 5 Michael Chang, No. 8 Michael Stich, No. 12 Richard Krajicek, No. 14 Jim Courier and No. 15 Todd Martin.
Sampras dominated Yzaga in every way possible in a second-round match, beating Yzaga from the baseline and at the net, slamming serves so fast that fans giggled at the numbers on the radar display.
Three aces in one game lighted up the board with 123, 127 and 128. They not only traveled fast, they hit the corners, and Yzaga was reduced to a spectator like everyone else.
Sampras next plays Mark Philippoussis, an 18-year-old from Australia with a Greek heritage like Sampras. Philippoussis is a muscleman who served 22 aces to beat Marc Goellner in straight sets. There were few other upsets on the men’s side. The biggest came when unseeded Byron Black, a top doubles player, dispatched No. 9 seed Thomas Enqvist, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Last year’s men’s runner-up Michael Stich finally broke Hernan Gumy in the eighth game of the fifth set to hold on, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
xxxx FRIDAY’S GLANCE Results - Men’s Singles, second round: No. 2 Pete Sampras, No. 3 Thomas Muster, No. 5 Michael Chang, No. 8 Michael Stich advanced. Women’s Singles, third round: No. 1 Steffi Graf, No. 9 Gabriela Sabatini, No. 12 Natasha Zvereva advanced. Upsets: No. 9 Thomas Enqvist, No. 6 Mary Pierce. Today on Stadium Court: Boris Becker (4), vs. Jason Stoltenberg; Monica Seles (2) vs. Yone Kamio; Andre Agassi (1) vs. Stefan Edberg; (night) Conchita Martinez (4) vs. Naoko Sawamatsu; Yevgeny Kafelnikov (7) vs. Vincent Spadea.
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