NEW YORK (AP) — Unfairly, unbelievably, Serena Williams
was robbed of a point by an umpire’s mistake at the U.S.
Open, just like her sister was at Wimbledon.

Diana Krankurs
Serena Williams was knocked out of the U.S. Open by Jennifer Capriati yesterday after a controversial call by an umpire.

It happened in the opening game of the third set between
Williams and Jennifer Capriati, who went on to win their Open
quarterfinal 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday.

“I’m very angry and bitter right now. I felt
cheated. Shall I go on? I just feel robbed,” a composed
Williams said, laughing a bit. “At first, I thought it was
another Wimbledon conspiracy.”

The match was tight and testy, the way it almost always has been
during their 17 matches: contested calls, spiked rackets, some
gamesmanship and strokes pounded with power. A lot of power.

Capriati played superbly, without a doubt, but what always will
be remembered is the miscue by chair umpire Mariana Alves of
Portugal. She awarded the point to Capriati after Williams hit a
backhand that landed in — and was ruled good by the line
judge.

“I don’t need to see the replay. I know my shots.
Not only was it in, it wasn’t even near the line,” said
Williams, who couldn’t defend her 2002 Open title because of
left knee surgery that forced her to miss eight months. “But
I’m not making excuses. I didn’t lose because of that.
I probably should have closed her out in the second set.”

It was eerily reminiscent of Wimbledon, where Venus Williams
lost in the second round after Karolina Sprem was mistakenly
awarded an extra point in the final-set tiebreaker. Venus
didn’t argue at all, saying later she was confused; chair
umpire Ted Watts was kicked out of the tournament.

“I’d prefer she not umpire at my court
anymore,” Serena Williams said of Alves. “She’s
obviously anti-Serena.”

Williams wound up losing that pivotal game, and though she did
break right back, she was broken again to 2-1 and never recovered.
TV replays also appeared to show at least two other incorrect calls
that went against Williams in the final game, when Capriati needed
three match points to serve it out.

“I didn’t even, like, look at it. It was close. I
was just going to what the umpire said,” Capriati told the
crowd afterward, drawing some boos and murmurs.

“Believe me, I’ve had things go against me many
times, plenty of times. I deserve to get a call once in a
while.”

In the semifinals, the eighth-seeded Capriati will face No. 6
Elena Dementieva, who outlasted No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo 4-6, 6-4, 7-6
(1) in a match marred by 24 double-faults, 82 unforced errors, 36
break points and 14 service breaks.

After racing through the first set, Williams got broken to start
the second when Capriati hit a deep return that forced a forehand
wide.

“I fought hard, and I prevailed because of that,”
said Capriati, who lost 6-1, 6-1 to Williams at Wimbledon but
yesterday narrowed her head-to-head deficit to 10-7. “One
point, I don’t think, changed the match.”

Yesterday’s encounter was their third straight
quarterfinal at a Slam, and much like Venus Williams’ loss to
Lindsay Davenport in the fourth round Monday, this one could have
been for the title. For the first time since 1998, both Williams
sisters will end a season without a single Grand Slam title between
them.

Serena Williams has won six majors — including two at the
U.S. Open — and Capriati has won three — though
she’s never been to the final at Flushing Meadows.

Capriati dug deep in the second and third sets, playing
brilliant defense by scrambling along the baseline to extend points
until Williams made a mistake. Williams finished with 57 unforced
errors, 29 more than Capriati. Those allowed Capriati to get by
with only 12 clean winners.

Williams had 25 winners officially, but that really should have
been 26. Serving at deuce to open the last set, Williams smacked a
backhand down the line, on the far side of the court from the chair
umpire.

TV replays showed the ball landed in, by an inch or more, and
the line judge called it correctly.

But as Williams walked to the baseline to serve, dribbling the
ball with her racket, Alves overruled that call and announced:
“Advantage, Capriati.”

A stunned Williams looked up and asked, “What
happened?” Then, with hand on hip, she said to Alves:
“That’s my point. That ball was in. It’s my
advantage.”

Williams swiveled to look at her parents and sisters in the
guest box, then walked toward Alves, saying: “No, no, no, no,
no. That was my point! What are you talking about? What’s
going on? Excuse me? That ball was so in. What the heck is
this?”

Then Williams placed a ball on the court, and pleaded her case
while pointing: “The ball landed here. That ball was not out.
Are you kidding me? I’m trying to tell you: The ball was not
out. Do I need to speak another language?”

Alves responded: “Please calm down.”

Capriati stood at the other end, shaking her head. On the next
point, she sailed a backhand long on a 14-stroke rally —
which should have ended the game for Williams. Instead, it sent the
score back to deuce, and Capriati capitalized with a tremendous
volley winner to get another break point, converted with a forehand
that tripped off the net cord and landed in.

After all the theater of Capriati-Williams, defending
men’s champion Andy Roddick assembled a matter-of-fact 6-3,
6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 18 Tommy Robredo to reach the
quarterfinals. Roddick’s next foe is No. 28 Joachim
Johansson, who beat Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

Earlier, 2001 Open winner Lleyton Hewitt beat Karol Beck 6-4,
6-2, 6-2 for his 14th consecutive win, and Tommy Haas beat Tomas
Berdych 7-6 (6), 6-1, 7-5, erasing three set points in the
tiebreaker.

“I’m playing pretty solid tennis, day in, day
out,” said Hewitt, who hasn’t dropped a set.

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