New York: Organisers at the US Open delayed the start of play further on Sunday as heavy rain continued to fall at Flushing Meadows. Play, due to start at 1500 GMT, had been put back as new deadlines came and went and officials were helpless as rains continued. Forecasts are grim, however, with rain expected all day.
However, while other big names wobbled at the US Open on Saturday, Venus Williams, Andre Agassi and Jennifer Capriati stayed rock solid, recording quickfire victories to slice further through the Grand Slam draw.
Venus smashed German Martina Mueller 6-1, 6-2 in just 41 minutes, Capriati crushed fellow-American Meghann Shaughnessy 6-2, 6-2 in 56 minutes, while Agassi battered Ramon Delgado of Paraguay 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in 89 minutes.
Their emphatic victories were in stark contrast to the progress of men’s top seed and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt, who needed five nerve-jangling sets to shake off American favourite James Blake.
The Australian eventually prevailed 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 but the match was not without its uncomfortable moments for the world No. 1.
“I knew it was going to be a bloody tough match out there,” Hewitt said, after firing down an ace to seal the win in three hours 34 minutes. “I went out there with a Davis Cup mentality and just blocked it out.”
Agassi, though, continued his dominant run.
In a rematch of last year’s third-round encounter, also won by Agassi in straight sets, the American kept his opponent off balance and was in control throughout. “I feel good where my game is at. How can I complain'” he asked. The sixth seed will face unseeded compatriot Jan-Michael Gambill, after he clattered Argentine 21st seed Gaston Gaudio 6-0, 6-2, 6-0.
Venus, seeded second this year behind younger sister Serena, stayed on track for a third successive Open crown with a ruthless victory.
The American has conceded just six games in three matches at Flushing Meadow and is looking in sparkling form. She meets compatriot Chanda Rubin next.
Rubin, seeded 14, finessed her way past US doubles specialist Lisa Raymond with a 7-6. 6-4 win.
Capriati, the third seed, produced 17 winners and broke 30th seed Shaughnessy’s serve four times in their match. Her fourth-round opponent will be unseeded fellow-American Amy Frazier, who rallied past Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Far less convincing than Capriati and Venus on a blustery day six were Monica Seles and Kim Clijsters.
Sixth seed Seles was in the wars again as she fought off a spirited challenge by South Korea’s Cho Yoon-Jeong to reach the fourth round 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.
That much is certain as she meets ninth seed Martina Hingis next. Hingis, back in action after ankle surgery kept her out of the French Open and Wimbledon, eliminated South African Amanda Coetzer 6-3, 6-4.
Seventh seed Clijsters recovered from a nightmare start to oust dynamic Russian Vera Zvonareva 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Clijsters booked a clash with 10th seed Amelie Mauresmo of France, who beat Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder 6-1, 6-4.
Marcelo Rios of Chile retired in his third-round match with right knee tendinitis, giving 14th seed Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic an easy passage into Round IV and a clash with Hewitt.