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Hingis Has No Trouble With Kournikova

By Stephen Wilson
AP Sports Writer
Thursday, July 3, 1997; 8:48 a.m. EDT

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Martina Hingis, continuing her mastery over Anna Kournikova, won the battle of the 16-year-olds today to become the youngest Wimbledon women's finalist in 110 years.

In an error-filled match that failed to live up to expectations, Kournikova held serve only once and Hingis labored to a 6-3, 6-2 victory in 62 minutes before a muted Centre Court crowd.

The top-seeded Hingis will face the winner of the second women's semifinal between Jana Novotna and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Hingis, who won the Australian Open in January, is the youngest women's finalist at Wimbledon since Charlotte ``Lottie'' Dodd won the title in 1887 at the age of 15 years, 285 days.

Because of backlogs caused by rain delays and the possibility of more bad weather ahead, tournament officials scheduled the women's semifinals and men's quarterfinals on the same day today.

Specators were relishing the chance to watch Tim Henman and Greg Rusedki bidding to set up an all-British semifinal and three-time champions Pete Sampras and Boris Becker dueling on Centre Court

The matchup between Sampras and Becker was considered by many to be the final, only two rounds early.

``I'm going to walk into it like a final,'' Sampras said after completing a five-set victory Wednesday over Petr Korda. ``You have to against Boris. He has that aura and presence about him.''

Sampras went into the match with a 10-7 career record against Becker, including victories in the Wimbledon semifinals in 1993 and the final in 1995. That was the year Becker abdicated what he called his ``house'' to Sampras.

Their last meeting came at the ATP Tour finals in Hanover last November, when Sampras won a thrilling five-setter that he described as ``one of the best matches I've ever been a part of.''

``We have a lot of respect for each other,'' he said. ``I've always admired Boris, how he handles being a superstar in Germany. He's a class act.''

``That's what it's all about, walking out with Boris, to a packed house,'' Sampras said. ``That's what the game needs now is a rivalry.''

Sampras vs. Becker is the best thing in men's tennis since the demise of the Sampras-Andre Agassi rivalry. Agassi has gone AWOL, and Sampras would like him to return soon.

``The game really needs him a lot,'' Sampras said. ``He's the one guy that has a lot of fan support, and he puts tennis on the front page of the sports page, and that's what it needs. But I think he'll come back. I mean he should come back.''

In other men's quarterfinals, 1991 champion Michael Stich faced Henman; Rusedski played Pioline; and 19-year-old German Nicolas Kiefer was up against Todd Woodbridge.

Henman and Rusedski were the first two British men to get to the quarters in the same year since Mike Sangster and Bobby Wilson did it in 1961. By knocking off Richard Krajicek in four sets, Henman was the first Briton to beat a defending champion since Roger Taylor downed Rod Laver in the fourth round in 1970.

``He's for real,'' Sampras said of Henman. ``He's here to stay.''

One person who's heard more than enough about Henman is Krajicek. He compared playing him on Centre Court to ``playing against the whole of England'' and said the chants of ``Tim, Tim'' were still ringing in his ears.

``The only thing I know is that I'm not going to name my kid `Tim' because I hate that name,'' Krajicek said.

Should Henman and Rusedski advance, they would meet in the first all-British semifinal since 1922. That would guarantee a Briton playing in the men's final for the first time since Henry ``Bunny'' Austin lost to Don Budge in 1938.

Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

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