NEW YORK -- Every day a player comes off Arthur Ashe Stadium court and complains about the wind. Down on the court, even on a humid day, the wind swirls.
Yesterday, Anke Huber said the wind betrayed her. It interfered with her serve and played havoc with her ground strokes. Across the net, she said, No. 1 Martina Hingis played as if the wind was her tennis partner.
"Martina, she used the wind very well today to her advantage," Huber said. "She's just a very smart player. Smarter than anybody else on the tour."
Hingis and the wind swept Huber aside, 6-2, 6-0, in 57 minutes to move into the U.S. Open semifinals. Also, No. 3 Venus Williams overpowered No. 12 Barbara Schett, 6-4, 6-3, to earn a semifinal shot against Hingis.
This will be the third straight trip to the semifinals for Hingis and Williams.
Today, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, the defending Open champion, and No. 5 Mary Pierce are to meet in the afternoon and No. 4 Monica Seles and No. 7 Serena Williams are to play tonight to complete the semifinal lineup.
As Hingis played, giving Huber a lesson in wind management, her game was beautiful in its simplicity.
She served hard and hit every ball deep with pace. At times, Huber stood on the baseline, totally prepared, and still saw an unhittable ball fly by.
Hingis didn't disagree with Huber's assessment of her intelligence or her play yesterday.
"In the wind, yeah, probably I am smartest," she said. "If you play with the wind, you spin the ball more and keep it in the game, basically, because you know the other [player] can't really hurt you that much because where she is, playing against the wind, it feels like weightlifting.
"Against the wind, you just hit as hard as you can."
Yesterday, Hingis used the wind and handled it better, making just 15 unforced errors to Huber's 39.
Though Huber is a 10-year veteran here and Hingis has been coming to the Open for only five years, it is the younger woman who has more experience on the center court.
Late last week, Huber had said her boyfriend, French Open runner-up Andrei Medvedev, acted as a natural high for her, but even his presence in her friends' box yesterday could not help her to lift her game.
"I started losing the long rallies," she said. "After that, I tried to make the points a little bit too fast."
And Huber said again the wind made it difficult for her to play her game.
"You learn it by experience," Hingis said of the way she thinks on court. "You don't just get born a smart player. Some players have more [intelligence] and some less. Venus, I think, is smart. She adjusts her game.
"But some hit the ball hard, some don't. And some are tall. I have to use other weapons to be and stay at the top; otherwise, I wouldn't be the No. 1 player if I wouldn't think a little bit on court."
Hingis has been in a good mood here. She said she has used her experiences at the French Open, where she acted the brat and was reduced to tears by the play of Steffi Graf in the final, and at Wimbledon, where she lost in the first round during a brief separation from her mother and coach, Melanie Monitor, to mature.
"I've worked on myself since then," she said. "I just feel like I'm in much better shape and mentally grown up also a little bit. That's why I can basically use what I have on court, like today I used my mental strength to be able to handle the wind and the tough conditions."
But, at the French, one of the things that got her in trouble was the suggestion before the final with Graf that all the pressure was on her opponent and that Graf would feel it.
Yesterday, she said the same situation exists for Williams, her semifinal opponent.
"I don't think they've played that great the whole tournament," she said of both Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. "And I've played great, two sets all the time. I'm happy being in the semifinals. I have nothing to lose, basically, going out there against Venus. She still didn't win a Grand Slam. It's more pressure on her in her home country."
Familiar words. Results to be determined.
Gustavo Kuerten (5) def. Magnus Norman, 7-6 (7-4), retired.
Cedric Pioline def. Tommy Haas (14), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Slava Dosedel def. Jiri Novak, 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.
Todd Martin (7) def. Greg Rusedski (9), 5-7, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4.
Martina Hingis (1) def. Anke Huber, 6-2, 6-0.
Venus Williams (3) def. Barbara Schett (12), 6-4, 6-3.
Pub Date: 9/08/99