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Rainy day victory

Capriati prevails despite delays

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Cutting short the chance to rest during a changeover, Jennifer Capriati hopped off her chair and headed to the baseline.

Enough waiting around already, Capriati was thinking, let's get this over with.

In a rain-interrupted match that ended about 6 1/2 hours after it began, the No. 6-seeded Capriati reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the third straight year by beating No. 11 Elena Dementieva 6-2, 7-5 Monday.

"It was just getting pretty annoying. I was getting tired," Capriati said. "It's hard to play matches like that once you're out there because your rhythm is off."

As of 7 p.m. MDT, it was the only match completed. Just one other encounter even began by then: No. 29 Francesca Schiavone won the first game against No. 15 Ai Sugiyama before they left the court after only six minutes.

More than 60 matches — including ones in the singles, doubles, junior and senior tournaments — were postponed without a shot being hit. Organizers were holding out hope of being able to get some men's and women's singles and doubles competition in at night. The last time an entire day at the Open was rained out was Sept. 4, 1988.

Among the singles matches put off until Tuesday: top-ranked Andre Agassi against unseeded American Taylor Dent, and No. 5 Guillermo Coria against Jonas Bjorkman.

The winners of those matches will meet in the quarterfinals.

Agassi complained after his third-round meeting with Yevgeny Kafelnikov was the only singles match postponed Saturday because of rain. Agassi was angered that the players weren't consulted and that Dent's match against Fernando Gonzalez went on as scheduled. Now Agassi doesn't have to worry about getting less-than-sufficient rest.

Capriati had time to relax Monday, even catching some Zs during one of the delays.

"When I want to sleep I can sleep," she said. "I'm used to taking naps. I take a nap every day."

Her match was slated to start at 10:45 a.m. MDT, but that was pushed back an hour. Once they got on the court, Capriati, a three-time major champion, and Dementieva, a 2001 Open semifinalist, were given 10 minutes to warm up, twice what's normally allotted. And then they finally started, only to be ushered off the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium after 13 minutes — enough time for Capriati to go up 4-0.

A break of nearly 4 1/2 hours followed. Then they played another 36 minutes until sprinkles prompted the chair umpire to stop action, drawing boos from the few thousand fans in the stadium. Capriati led 6-2, 3-2.

After about another hour, play resumed. This time, Capriati finished the job.

The players immediately traded breaks of service, and then Capriati let Dementieva take a 5-4 lead in the second set by getting broken at love with an errant forehand.

Capriati was rushing even more than she usually does, and that caused some mistakes. But then she also straightened out her game in a hurry, slapping herself on the thigh for encouragement.

She broke back to 5-5, then held to 6-5 with help from her only ace (at 108 mph).

At this point, rain was trickling down, and Capriati was eager to get home. She chewed on her towel during the changeover, then moved to the baseline, ready to receive serve. Dementieva sat as long as allowed, making Capriati wait alone on court.

A beautiful backhand topspin lob got Capriati within two points of victory, and she wrapped it up with a good deep forehand and then a backhand passing shot winner. In the end, they played for 1 hour, 12 minutes — spread out between 11:45 a.m. and 6:22 p.m. MDT.

Capriati finished with a 28-14 edge in winners, and Dementieva hurt herself with seven double-faults, with some serves landing a few feet out.

"I was just more aggressive overall with my shots, my tennis, too," Capriati said. "I was just really going for it. That's what I wanted to do. If it didn't work, it didn't work."

While she snoozed, other players killed time in their lounge by reading or playing video games. Agassi could be seen wandering in the halls of the main stadium with his young son in his arms, while Wimbledon champion Roger Federer played chess against Max Mirnyi and then hit tennis balls to scattered fans in the stands.

Led by No. 1 Agassi and No. 2 Federer, all of the top eight seeded men reached the round of 16 at the U.S. Open for the first time since 1981.

Agassi's match today against Dent will offer some true contrasts.

Agassi, 33, is a baseliner, rarely venturing forward other than to close a point. He's also his generation's greatest returner of serve.

Dent, 22, is serve-and-volleyer, pounding aces and rushing to the net whenever there's an opening. He won points on 111 of his 170 trips to the net while upsetting the 15th-seeded Gonzalez to earn his debut trip to the fourth round of a major.

Dent's father, Phil, was a top 20 player.

"From a very young age, my dad made sure I didn't get into comparing my game to his. It's too much pressure," the younger Dent said Monday between putts on a golf game in the players' lounge. "I'm working on my consistency. To continually play at this level, it's still not 100 percent there."

He's lost both times he played Agassi, and there are some other lopsided head-to-head records in the men's fourth round.

No. 4 Andy Roddick takes a 6-0 career mark against Xavier Malisse into their match, while Federer never has beaten No. 13 David Nalbandian in four attempts on tour.