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Seles gets early ouster from Open

Davenport, Hingis, Kuerten advance in N.Y.

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NEW YORK — In successive weeks last month, Monica Seles beat top-ranked Martina Hingis on hardcourts, first in San Diego, then in Los Angeles.

So with Hingis, seeded No. 1, and No. 7 Seles both parked in the same quarter of the draw at the U.S. Open, it seemed inevitable they would meet again. That couldn't be a wonderful prospect for Hingis, not after their last two matches.

No problem.

Daja Bedanova upset that plan Sunday, knocking off Seles 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the round of 16 and producing her earliest exit from this tournament since she won consecutive titles here in 1991-92.

Perhaps energized by Seles' elimination, Hingis advanced with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over No. 14 Jelena Dokic.

Dokic started fast, winning the first three games. Then Hingis turned the match around, losing just one game the rest of the way.

Seles was understandably disappointed at not getting into the Open's more significant rounds.

"It was one of those matches that didn't feel comfortable from the first ball hit," she said. "She was playing really steady. She didn't give me any free points. I was just having a hard time finding my range with my groundstrokes. I think I probably had a lot of unforced errors in there."

She was right about that. There were 51 of them, the kind of burden she could not overcome.

"It was just one of those days," Seles said. "It's just frustrating when you have a day like today in a Grand Slam."

In the final match of the third round, top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten rallied to beat big-serving Belarussian Max Mirnyi 6-7 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-2. Thousands of noisy fans — a few waving Brazilian flags — stayed until the finish at 12:17 a.m.

"That was a great win," Kuerten said. "All the sets were decided by very little. We both played a great match and one had to win, so I was lucky it was me."

Hingis seemed in trouble at the start against Dokic, but the match did a sudden U-turn midway through the first set. After a 46-minute first set, Hingis zipped through the second in just 19 minutes and reached the Open quarters for the sixth straight year.

"She played very well in the beginning," Hingis said. "I just had to play my game get everything back I could. After I won the first set, her game fell apart. It gave me more time to do something.

"I played much more aggressive. The way I was able to adapt today, I was happy about the match."

While Seles was unable to avoid elimination, No. 3 seed Lindsay Davenport staged a great escape. The 1998 champion looked distracted and sluggish before recovering to defeat Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.

"Just didn't play well," Davenport said. "Conditions were rough. Didn't handle them probably appropriately. Just had to struggle out there today. I have to try and get better, get more confident, get a little bit more concentrated or have a better game plan next time."

The victory sent Davenport into the quarterfinals at the Open, a familiar spot for her. The 1998 Open champion has been to the quarters or better of every Grand Slam she's played in the last four years except the 2000 French Open, where she lost in the first round. She skipped the French this year because of a right knee bone bruise.

Next for Davenport is a quarterfinal date with No. 10 Serena Williams, the 1999 champion, who cruised past No. 6 Justine Henin 7-5, 6-0.

"Right now, I'm definitely in a good spot," Williams said. "I have a lot of confidence. I think I can do a bit better on my serves, my returns. I haven't hit as many aces as I normally do. There are a lot of things I would like to improve on. I'm only 19. I have plenty of time. But I would like to do it before the next three matches."

In other action Sunday, No. 4 Lleyton Hewitt, No. 7 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 12 Arnaud Clement, No. 16 Tommy Haas, No. 18 Andy Roddick, Albert Costa and Tommy Robredo all advanced.

Robredo defeated fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (1). Ferrero, the fifth seed, is the highest seeded player ousted in the tournament so far.