Teen sensations and childhood friends, Alexandra Stevenson and Serena Williams each had quick matches at the U.S. Open today. But unlike Williams, who got to go home early after routing Kimberly Po, 6-1, 6-0, Stevenson was unhappy to leave Louis Armstrong Stadium after a 6-2, 6-2 drubbing by No. 11 seed Nathalie Tauziat.
Stevenson barely pushed the 31-year-old Frenchwoman: Tauziat lost just 13 points on service, with seven of those points coming on double faults. The match was the latest in a difficult string for the 18-year-old phenom, who advanced to the semifinals of Wimbledon as a qualifier this summer. She has lost her last three first-round matches and failed to qualify for a tournament in New Haven, Conn., last week.
After the match, Tauziat suggested that Stevenson may have too many outside distractions to play well. Since her Wimbledon success -- which was spiced with the revelation that her father is NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving -- Stevenson has been in the center of a maelstrom of hype.
"She didn't put too much out on the court," Tauziat said. "I think there are too many pressures on her right now and she can't play her tennis."
But Stevenson said: "I don't have any pressures -- I'm not seeded, I'm not the number one player," she said. "I lost to a tough player, and I just need to learn some more. I think I had some chances; I just didn't take them."
Stevenson grew up in San Diego but will move to Dallas this month to be closer to her coach, Craig Kardon, and to live in a state with no income tax, said her mother, Samantha Stevenson. Until then, Stevenson will stick around New York, playing in the doubles tournament here. She will also be watching the 17-year-old Williams and her 19-year-old sister, Venus, who are both blazing through the singles draw.
Their father, Richard, has predicted the sisters will meet in the final.
"That would be really exciting, because either way it would mean one of us would be able to win our first Grand Slam," said Serena, who finished tonight in 49 minutes. "I think it's impossible for anyone to have a chance against me when I'm playing my best. When I am on my game, nobody can beat me."
What Are Friends For?
Lindsay Davenport is so close to her doubles partner, Corrina Morariu, that she will be at Morariu's wedding in November. But that didn't stop her from knocking out Morariu, 6-0, 6-3, in their opening-round match.
"It's always tough to play someone you know," Davenport said. "But I think of the circumstances of it being the U.S. Open, of me being the defending champion, and I took it very seriously. I came out pretty fired up and played well." . . .
James Blake, who recently left Harvard to turn professional, thought he'd be nervous in his first U.S. Open appearance, so he brought a CD player and headphones onto the court. He listened to the Dave Matthews Band during changeovers, but the musical accompaniment did little for his game as he lost, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, to fellow American Chris Woodruff.
"I wanted to stay relaxed and not worry," Blake said. "I wanted to take my mind off the match during changeovers, not think about it as much."