Russians Ousted in Rainy Day Action

APRussia's Yelena Dementieva serving to Jennifer Capriati of the United States in their matchup at the U.S. Open on Monday.
NEW YORK -- In a rain-interrupted match that ended more than 6 hours after it began, sixth-seeded Jennifer Capriati reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the third straight year Monday by beating No. 11 Elena Dementieva of Russia 6-2, 7-5.

French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, meanwhile, beat Russia's Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 in 57 minutes to make the Open's round of eight for the first time.

All four scheduled men's fourth-round matches were postponed because of downpours, but organizers tried to fit in the women's action.

After Henin-Hardenne and Safina, the younger sister of 2000 Open champion Marat Safin, warmed up, tournament referee Brian Earley made them sit while he inspected the court. With the No. 2-seeded Henin-Hardenne urging him to let them play, Earley did.

Fewer than 50 fans were on hand at the Grandstand Court when No. 7 Anastasia Myskina of Russia and two-time Grand Slam title winner Mary Pierce began their encounter a little after 11 p.m. on Monday.

When play was stopped for the day about 40 minutes later, Myskina led 4-2 in the first set, while No. 15 Ai Sugiyama and No. 29 Francesca Schiavone were tied 6-6.

A total of 69 matches -- including ones in the doubles, junior and senior tournaments -- were postponed without a shot being hit.

Among the postponed matches: top-ranked Andre Agassi against unseeded American Taylor Dent, and No. 5 Guillermo Coria against Jonas Bjorkman. The winners of those matches will meet in the quarterfinals.

Agassi complained after his third-round meeting with Yevgeny Kafelnikov was the only singles match postponed Saturday because of rain.

Agassi was angry that the players weren't consulted, and that Dent's match against Fernando Gonzalez proceeded as scheduled. Now Agassi will have plenty of rest before facing Dent.

Capriati had time to relax Monday, even sleeping during one of the delays.

"When I want to sleep, I can sleep," she said. "I'm used to taking naps. I take a nap every day."

Once they did get on the court, Capriati, a three-time major champion, and Dementieva, a 2000 Open semifinalist, were given 10 minutes to warm up, twice what's normally allotted. And then they finally started, only to be

ushered off the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium after 13 minutes -- enough time for Capriati to go up 4-0.

A break of nearly 4 1/2 hours followed. Then they played another 36 minutes until sprinkles prompted the chair umpire to stop action, drawing boos from the few thousand fans in the stadium. Capriati led 6-2, 3-2.

After about another hour, play resumed, and Capriati finished the job.

The players immediately traded breaks of service, and then Capriati let Dementieva take a 5-4 lead in the second set by getting broken at love with an errant forehand.

Capriati was rushing even more than she usually does, and that caused some mistakes. But then she also straightened out her game in a hurry, slapping herself on the thigh for encouragement.

She broke back to 5-5, then held to 6-5 with help from her only ace.

At this point, rain was trickling down, and Capriati was eager to get home. She chewed on her towel during the changeover, then moved to the baseline, ready to receive serve. Dementieva sat as long as allowed, making Capriati wait alone on court.

A beautiful backhand topspin lob got Capriati within two points of victory, and she wrapped it up with a good deep forehand and then a backhand passing shot. In the end, they played for 1 hour, 12 minutes.

While Capriati snoozed, other players killed time by reading or playing video games. Agassi could be seen wandering in the halls of the main stadium with his young son in his arms, while Wimbledon champion Roger Federer played chess against Max Mirnyi and then hit tennis balls to scattered fans in the stands.