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Serena sweeps past Daja

New York: Torrential rain on Sunday evening and Monday morning continued to wreak havoc with the schedule at the US Open Tennis Championships.

Organisers have not yet said when they expect play to begin. Forecasts are grim, though, with rain expected to continue into the late afternoon before it clears.

After a near six-hour delay during Sunday’s day session, steady rain forced the cancellation of the evening’s session, marking the first time an entire night session at the Open was wiped out since 1998.

Having endured almost six hours of relentless New York rain, Serena Williams needed just 41 minutes of dry weather to annihilate 20th seed Daja Bedanova 6-1, 6-1 and reach the quarter finals on Sunday.

Hunting for her third Grand Slam of the year, the French Open and Wimbledon champion destroyed the Czech with some venomous hitting on a day virtually wiped out by the weather.

Top seed Serena — the champion here in 1999 — pounded 35 straight winners past the willowy Bedanova and never faced a break point during the match.

“I love playing serve and volleyers... I really get a thrill out of that,” she said. “I have a specific strategy but I will not let anyone in on that, except for maybe Venus,” she said, referring to her elder sister and defending champion here.

Her strategy seemed pretty straightforward on Sunday: smash winners from all over the court, demolish her opponent’s serve and walk off at the end without expending too much energy.

The tactics certainly worked, and she seemed relaxed and confident throughout.

The secret could be in her simple preparation.

“I hit a few serves, a few returns...went to sleep, ate, went to sleep, hung out, laughed,” she smiled. “That’s what I did today, played a match.”

Serena was the lucky one as the downpour resumed shortly after her victory.

She next plays either Belgian eighth seed Justine Henin or 11th-seeded Slovak Daniela Hantuchova. Their match was cut short by the rain and cancelled for the evening.

The break could help Hantuchova after she took an awkward tumble and hurt her wrist during the match.

Hantuchova easily won the first set 6-1 and was serving at 1-2 down and 40-30 in the second when she lunged for a forehand return in the corner and slid on the baseline, falling on her right wrist. She was receiving treatment when rain resumed.

Greg Rusedski had just relinquished a break of serve in the first set of his match against Pete Sampras when they were called off court. The Briton was leading 5-4 in the opening set.

Third-seeded German Tommy Haas had just won the first set of his match against Thomas Enqvist of Sweden when they were called off.

Serena’s quickfire victory means tournament organisers will not have to refund the fans who sat in the rain throughout the day.

Event rules state that spectators are only refunded if no matches in a session are completed. They will, however, have to compensate all ticket holders for the evening session. They will be offered tickets for next year’s event.

The tournament can overcome any backlog by playing into the evening on the outside floodlit courts as well as the showcourts at Flushing Meadow.

Paes-Hill eliminated

On Saturday, Leander Paes and Michael Hill bowed out of men’s doubles after a marathon duel with Wayne Arthurs and Michael Kratzmann. The Aussie duo won 7- 6 (8-6), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5).

Mahesh Bhupathi’s mixed doubles campaign also ended. He and Russian Elena Likhovtseva, the Wimbledon champions and third seeds, lost 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7) to Americans Justin Gimelstob and Corina Morariu.

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