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NOTEBOOK | Australian Open

Friday, January 23, 2004

Tennis and marriage: Talk of marriage is replacing tennis talk. Australia's Lleyton Hewitt spoke about his engagement to No. 2-ranked Kim Clijsters. "She can organize it," Hewitt said of his wedding date, which the couple has not disclosed. "We don't talk about tennis most of the time. But if we do need anything, I think we both know when to talk about tennis and when not to, as well." Hewitt said his relationship with Clijsters has been great for both. "She obviously saw what I was going through, the pressures of being a top player maybe a year or so before she got into the top five, top two in the world," he said. Earlier in the week, top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne discussed her 2002 wedding to Yves Pierre Hardenne. "It helped me a lot, gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of security and I feel much better since I'm married," she said.
Un-sportsmanlike conduct: Fabrice Santoro was fined $1,500 by the International Tennis Federation after spitting in the direction of an on-court official during his second-round loss to Mark Philippousis.
Following the light: Venus Williams has plenty of interests, but she still has to convince her mother, Oracene, that tennis remains her focus. "She doesn't want me to lose my focus on the tennis, which I won't," the four-time Grand Slam winner said. "It's like my lighthouse. I'm always going toward the tennis."
Family pair: Marat Safin is getting plenty of attention. So is his sister. Dinara Safina, Safin's 17-year-old sister, advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-3 win over 27th-seeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa Thursday. Safina, ranked No. 48, is competing in her second Australian Open. While her brother reached the 2002 final in Melbourne, losing to Thomas Johansson of Sweden, Safina had not won a match in the Grand Slam event before this year. She beat Lubomira Kurhajcova of Slovakia before defeating Coetzer. Next up is second-seeded Kim Clijsters.
Five-set struggle: After three solid sets, the second-round contest between Todd Reid and Sargis Sargsian deteriorated into a match of survival. Reid got sick at courtside and both sought treatment for cramps and took tumbles while lunging for shots. In a match that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours, Australia's Reid prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (6), 6-4. The 19-year-old Reid, playing in his first five-set match, began having cramps in the fourth set, but broke Sargsian at 5-5 and needed only to hold his own to finish off the match. Before he got the chance, Reid was vomiting and had to sit in the shade, pouring water over his head. When he returned to the court, he was promptly broken, evening the set at 6-all.
Source: Associated Press