American tennis hit bottom with its worst Wimbledon since World War I while the British, perhaps prematurely, celebrated their resurgence as Tim Henman stood poised to knock out defending champion Richard Krajicek.
The only American left in the tournament, three-time champion Pete Sampras, led Petr Korda 6-4, 4-2 when play was halted because of darkness Tuesday after another rain-interrupted afternoon.
Henman led the No. 4 Krajicek 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-5) when the match was stopped, and the whooping Centre Court crowd filed out into the night chanting “Hen-man, Hen-man.”
Boris Becker, a three-time champ like Sampras, headed an unprecedented German march into the men’s quarters with 19-year-old protege Nicolas Kiefer and former champion Michael Stich, who is playing his last Wimbledon.
With the loss of Mary Joe Fernandez to Jana Novotna, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, the American contingent failed to place a woman in the quarters for the first time since 1913. That was also the last year that only one American player among the men and women reached the quarters.
“It’s unfortunate, but I think that everything goes in cycles, and this was just a bad year for the U.S. here,” Fernandez said.
Top-seeded Martina Hingis stayed on course to become the youngest singles champion this century by downing Belgium’s Sabine Appelmans 6-1, 6-3.
So did fellow 16-year-old Anna Kournikova, who overcame Helena Sukova 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Sukova, twice Kournikova’s age at 32, double-faulted on match point.
The youngest singles champ was Charlotte “Lottie” Dod, who won at 15 years, 285 days in 1887.
While Sampras had to wait to see if he would reach the quarters against Becker, the usually beleaguered British already saw Greg Rusedski advance that far with a 32-ace, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over American Richey Reneberg. If Henman beats Krajicek, Britain would have two men in the quarters for the first time since 1961.
“It’s my first Grand Slam ever getting to the quarterfinals, and I’m pleased I took advantage of the situation today,” Rusedski said. “I think that was one of the best matches I’ve ever served.”
Germany hasn’t had three men in the quarters of any Grand Slam in the Open era. They did it this time with the No. 8 Becker’s 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory over No. 9 Marcelo Rios, the unseeded Kiefer’s 6-2, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 upset of No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and the unseeded Stich’s 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 6-3, 7-5 win over Mark Woodforde.
Kiefer, one of the first two players on Becker’s recently formed junior team in Germany, met his mentor a few years ago.
“I was always impressed by his hand-eye coordination,” Becker said. “He reminds me a bit of Andre (Agassi), the way he plays on the court. We’ve been working together. It’s funny to have a pupil in the quarterfinal, too. I talk to him before matches, and he goes out and beats the whole world. I just hope that he stays on the ground for another couple of days and plays as he should play.”
Kiefer, who calls Becker “the boss of the junior team,” would play him if they both reach the semis.
In other men’s matches, France’s Cedric Pioline beat Brett Steven 3-6, 6-3, and Todd Woodbridge upset fellow Australian and No. 12 Patrick Rafter 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3.
Kournikova next plays French Open champion and No. 4 seed Iva Majoli, who scraped out a 6-7 (8-10), 6-1, 9-7 victory over No. 12 Irina Spirlea. Eighth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, a two-time Wimbledon finalist, cruised into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over No. 9 Mary Pierce.
Hingis needed just 66 minutes to complete a victory that came just before play was suspended by rain for the first time in four days.
“I’m improving every match,” Hingis said.
The Swiss star sailed through the first set in 27 minutes. Appelmans went up a break at 2-0 in the second, but Hingis took command again when she broke for 4-3, setting up the point with a drop shot, then tapping a backhand into the open court.
Two games later, Hingis broke Appelmans again to close out the match. Despite a swinging serve by Appelmans that pulled her off the court, Hingis stretched to hit a sliced backhand return that just dropped over the net for a winner.
“I got pretty lucky there,” Hingis said. “I had almost no chance. I barely got to the ball.”
Appelmans said Hingis has everything it takes to win the tournament.
“She’s just a little better than most of us,” the Belgian said. “She hits a little bit earlier, a little bit faster.”
Indonesia’s Yayuk Basuki beat Patricia Hy-Boulais 6-0, 7-6 (7-2); Denisa Chaldkova topped Maria Alejandra Vento, 6-1, 6-3; and Nathalie Tauziat outlasted fellow Frenchwoman Sandrine Testud 4-6, 7-5, 12-10.
Tauziat was down two match points at 6-5, 40-15 when rain stopped play. When the match resumed, she saved both and won 10 straight points. Testud saved a total of nine match points in three games before Tauziat finally closed out the match.
Tauziat screamed and collapsed onto her back in relief when it was over. The two players then shared a long hug.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Wimbledon at a glance A brief look at what happened Tuesday at the Wimbledon championships: Men’s fourth-round winners: No. 8 Boris Becker, Michael Stich, Nicolas Kiefer, Greg Rusedski, Todd Woodbridge and Cedric Pioline. Women’s fourth-round winners: No. 1 Martina Hingis, No. 3 Jana Novotna, No. 4 Iva Majoli, No. 8 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Anna Kournikova, Denisa Chladkova, Nathalie Tauziat and Yayuk Basuki. Upsets: Nicolas Kiefer upset No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Todd Woodbridge upset No. 12 Patrick Rafter in the fourth round. Stat of the Day: For the first time since at least 1927 when seeding began, an American woman will not be in the Wimbledon women’s quarterfinals. Quote of the Day: “It’s funny to have a pupil in the quarterfinal, too. I talked to him before matches and he goes out and beats the whole world.” Boris Becker, on coaching 19-year-old fellow German and quarterfinalist Nicolas Kiefer.
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