After waiting eight and a half hours for her U.S. Open quarterfinal to begin, Lindsay Davenport sent Shinobu Asagoe home almost as soon as she stepped on the court with a speedy 6-1, 6-1 domination.
With their match delayed from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. by constant rain and moved from Arthur Ashe stadium court to make way for Andre Agassi and Roger Federer's quarterfinal match, Davenport flew past the 62nd-ranked Asagoe in a pair of 23-minute sets, setting up a semifinal meeting with No. 9 Svetlana Kuznetsova.
In the night's other women's quarterfinal, Kuznetsova took out her Russian countrywoman Nadia Petrova in straight sets, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
The two men's quarterfinals scheduled for Wednesday -- Agassi-Federer and Tim Henman-Dominik Hrbaty -- were suspended when the rains returned midway through the evening session. The top-seeded Federer led No. 6 Agassi, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5; No. 5 Henman led Hrbaty, 6-1, 7-5, 4-5, when play was suspended. Both matches are scheduled to resume Thursday.
Davenport, meantime, made 14 unforced errors. Asagoe, on the other hand, could only manage three winners to go along with her 13 unforced errors.
"I just wanted to get through the match and play smart and don't go for too much," Davenport said. "Just see how she came out, and she came out with a lot of errors. I just kind of went with it.
"But at about 6-1, 5-1, I thought, 'If it rains now, I'm going to die.' Then I started to hurry it up a bit," she said while laughing.
As the upsets have mounted in the women's draw, No. 5 Davenport is the highest women's seed remaining after Justine Henin-Hardenne, Amelie Mauresmo, Serena Williams and Anastasia Myskina were all eliminated earlier in the tournament.
Holding three match points in the second set, Davenport slammed a service winner, highlighting the strength of a serve that produced five aces in the short match. The 28-year-old won 84 percent of her points on her first serve and never faced a break point, while converting five of the eight chances she had.
Before a nearly empty Louis Armstrong stadium -- only about 300 spectators braved the iffy conditions -- Davenport played a tight, neat match with hardly any mistakes, looking as if she just wanted to get through her opponent and into the semifinals before there was any chance of the rain returning.
"I was just, really wanted to play today, you know," Davenport said. "I didn't care what time it was. I didn't want to have to come back here tomorrow and possibly go through the same thing. So I was very excited when we walked on the court and it looked like we were going to have some dry time."
With the victory, the hottest player in the tournament extended her winning streak to 22 straight matches and made her third consecutive U.S. Open semifinal.
Asagoe appeared not to belong on the same court with the surging Davenport, who could collect the No. 1 ranking by taking the tournament title with two more wins. In her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, the unseeded Asagoe never challenged. She won her first game after being down 4-0 in the first set and was down 3-0 in the second before getting on the board.
The Japanese player had already had a long road into the quarterfinals, taking out three seeded players, No. 24 Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi, No. 13 Paola Suarez and No. 29 Eleni Daniilidou, among her four wins in the Open.
"It was a long day, very tough day," Davenport said. "I think she started off with more errors than she usually makes and I was able to maintain that. You know, I felt comfortable returning her serve, and felt like I always had a chance to break her."
Open Notes: As rain delays stretched for more than eight hours on Wednesday, a number of players voiced support for some form of instant replay in response to the controversy that erupted during Serena Williams's quarterfinal loss to Jennifer Capriati on Tuesday.
With storms that brought three inches of rain to Manhattan, preventing the start of tennis until 7:30 p.m., attention turned to the biggest match of the tournament thus far.
Williams requested a letter of apology from chair umpire Mariana Alves of Portugal after a couple of disastrous calls went against her in the three-set loss. Williams saw at least four questionable calls go the other way in the match, the most obvious of which came in the first game of the third set when she sent a backhand down the line that, upon replay, easily was good, nicking the inner part of the sideline.
While the line judge immediately called the ball in, the chair umpire overruled the decision, prompting an immediate and vehement reaction from a shocked Williams.
"I'm all for it," Martina Navratilova said of instant replay. "They talk about the margin for error, but [the current technology's] within two centimeters. You can live with the two centimeters, it's the two feet that kill you. That was unconscionable. [The chair umpire's] brain must have stopped working."
But the question of instant replay was present even before the latest controversy.
"We've been having this in lots of matches," Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said, while emphasizing that Capriati deserved to beat Williams. "This is certainly not the first time. I'm of the opinion we should work toward using it. . . . In my mind, we should have something where it's used, you know, and maybe it's not used on every point, but maybe you get a couple of challenges per set type of thing."
USTA spokesman David Newman said Auto-Ref, a new computerized system, was tested during the week of qualifying at the U.S. Open on an unused court. The system measures the speed, trajectory and landing of the ball, whereas the current technology used for television, Hawkeye, only records landing. The product in use is accurate to within two to four centimeters, but Auto-Ref would be accurate to within one to three millimeters.