Kournikova Ascends at Lipton
- By Steven Wine
- Mar. 27 1998 00:00
KEY BISCAYNE, Florida -- She is photogenic, athletic and exotic, a 16-year-old Russian who may soon become the most famous female in sports.
All Anna Kournikova needs to do is win, and she's winning a lot at the Lipton Championships.
With cameras tracking her every move again Wednesday, the flamboyant tennis starlet extended her winning streak against top-10 players by beating second-ranked Lindsay Davenport 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
Kournikova eliminated No. 5 Monica Seles and No. 9 Conchita Martinez earlier in the tournament. Her opponent in the semifinals Thursday was No. 8 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, a two-time Lipton champion who advanced by defeating Jana Novotna 6-1, 6-1.
A matchup between Kournikova and top-ranked Martina Hingis in Saturday's final is a tantalizing possibility.
Dozens of web sites are already devoted to Kournikova, even though she has yet to reach a tournament final. If she wins Lipton, the Internet may crash.
And while Kournikova has already been the subject of countless magazine covers, she has the game to match the hype, building on the raw ability that took her to the Wimbledon semifinal last year.
"She's getting a lot more consistent with her shots than she used to be," Davenport said. "She hits the ball hard and she's an aggressive player. When she's not making errors, she's going to be tough to beat."
In the men's quarterfinals, Marcelo Rios closed within two victories of the No. 1 ranking by beating Thomas Enqvist, who hurt his wrist and retired trailing 6-3, 2-0. If Rios wins the tournament, he will end Pete Sampras' 102-week reign at No. 1.
The Chilean's opponent Friday will be Englishman Tim Henman, who advanced to his first ATP Tour semifinal on U.S. soil by beating Gustavo Kuerten 6-2, 6-4.