| Justine Henin-Hardenne after her win over Jennifer Capriati at Flushing Meadow on Saturday. (AFP)
New York, Sept. 6 (Reuters): AndrAgassi and Andy Roddick kept the stars and stripes flying high over Flushing Meadow on Friday, booking semi-final spots to stay on course for an all-American US Open final.
World No.1 Agassi blasted his way past a patched-up Guillermo Coria 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 to reach his ninth US Open semi-final. In the bottom half of the draw, Roddick walloped Dutchman Sjeng Schalken 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the last four here for the first time.
Among women, however, Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne crashed the American party on Friday, beating home favourites to reach the final. Second seed Henin-Hardenne diced with defeat before coming back to sabotage Jennifer Capriati’s dreams, in a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 semi-final victory full of quality and tension.
It was in stark contrast to Clijsters’ calculated 6-2, 6-3 demolition of Lindsay Davenport in their last four pairing, as the rain-hit Open staged an impromptu Friday evening session to catch up on chaotic schedules.
“I am so tired, I just gave everything I could even though I could have lost,” said Henin-Hardenne, who overcame cramping in the final set to clinch the tiebreak 7-4. She insisted she would enjoy enough rest to challenge Clijsters in the final, when Henin-Hardenne will be aiming to add to her French Open title secured with a final victory over Clijsters in June. Henin-Hardenne was put on a drip on Friday night after suffering dehydration less than 24 hours before her final date.
“I will only go on court (in the final) if I am able to compete,” Henin-Hardenne, lying down and with a drip inserted into her arm, said from the US Open medical room.
Agassi’s victory over the fifth-seeded Argentine earned him a shot at Juan Carlos Ferrero. Roddick will face David Nalbandian.
“This is what it all boils down to,” Agassi said. “Especially here at the Open... it’s where I’m from. This weekend will be one heck of an opportunity for pretty special memories. I’ll go out there with great excitement.”
On Friday, Argentine Coria was put to the sword.
Suffering from a left hamstring injury and with blood pouring from a cut thumb, Coria struggled with his movement for most of the contest. Agassi, beaten by Coria at Roland Garros, clinched the match with aggressive hitting from the back.
Roddick demolished his Dutch opponent, a semi-finalist here last year.
Even one unexpected blip, when Schalken broke serve to trail 5-4 in the first set, was quickly corrected, for Roddick immediately broke again to take the set. Achieved in just one hour 25 minutes, it was Roddick’s 17th consecutive win and sets up a semi-final match with Nalbandian.
For Capriati the immediate future involved coming to terms with failure in the US Open semi-finals for the third time.
“It hurts,” she said after storming off Arthur Ashe stadium before more than 13,000 disbelieving fans, following the battle which lasted three hours three minutes. “I felt my heart was being ripped out (when I lost). The match was mine and I beat myself.”
Meawhile, Ferrero ripped US Open bias favouring American players here on Friday as US fourth seed Andy Roddick blasted the notion as ridiculous.
The dispute came after bothmen advanced to the semi-finals of the Open marred by rain that has led to men being forced to play the last four rounds in only four days, with no rest.
Agassi and Roddick, however, were able to play their fourth-round matches earlier between rain delays, giving them a vital rest day Thursday.
Now, Ferrero's third match in as many days will be against Agassi for a spot in the final.