2003 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Serena adds Australian to collection


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 12:49 a.m.

MELBOURNE, Australia - Serena Slam or Sister Slam - no matter what you call it, Serena Williams is truly grand.

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Serena Williams argues a line call in her match against her sister Venus in the women's singles final at the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne, Saturday. Serena went on to win the match and the Championship.

AP Photo/Steve Holland

Williams survived an error-filled match to beat elder sister Venus 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4 Saturday to win the Australian Open for her fourth straight major championship.

Serena added the title to the French Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon crowns she won last year, all against her sister.

This marked only the sixth time a woman has held all four of tennis' major championships at the same time, and the first since Steffi Graf in 1994.

After Venus slumped through four straight errors in the final game, the two hugged at the net. Serena blew kisses to the crowd and then slumped in relief in her chair.

Throughout the 2-hour, 22-minute match, Serena showed how intent she was on winning. Even so, Venus tested her more than in their previous three matches, which Serena won in straight sets.

After losing her serve for 4-5, Serena threw her racket.

In the first-set tiebreaker, she took a ball she thought was out and hit a forehand past Venus, who had stopped playing.

Then she turned on the line judge and shouted, ``You just don't call them out, do you?''

After failing to cash in five break points in the final set's eighth game, Serena gave her sister a game point with a netted forehand and slammed down her racket.

Serena had 54 errors to Venus' 51, but beat her 37-28 on winners.

The match was played under cover in the Rod Laver Arena due to the extreme heat in Melbourne, where temperatures reached 108 degrees.

Meanwhile, exhausted and in pain, Andy Roddick bowed out of the Australian Open, tantalizingly close to a Battle of the Ages title match against Andre Agassi.

Still feeling the effects of the longest fifth set in Grand Slam tennis history, the ninth-seeded Roddick lost his Australian Open semifinal to Rainer Schuettler 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 on Friday.

Schuettler, a German seeded 31st, will play three-time champion Agassi in the final. Agassi won their only previous match in straight sets in 1998.

``It was my second year on tour. It's a long time ago,'' the 26-year-old Schuettler said. ``I think I have improved a lot. It's fun to go out there and try to give my best.''

The final will provide quite a contrast. Agassi will be in his 14th Grand Slam final, while Schuettler never had been past the fourth round at a major.

There could have been an even bigger clash to decide the title, at least as far as a U.S. audience would be concerned: the 32-year-old Agassi vs. the 20-year-old Roddick. The accomplished veteran with eight Grand Slam tournament championships vs. the up-and-comer seeking his first. The greatest returner of his generation vs. one of the best servers of his.

But Schuettler's speed and Roddick's swollen right wrist conspired to set up a different final.

Roddick could be excused if he was a tad fatigued after winning his quarterfinal match 21-19 in the fifth set. The match against Younes El Aynaoui lasted 4 hours, 59 minutes.

The worst effect from that marathon turned out to be the wrist injury, which ATP trainer Bill Norris said he and a doctor tried to help. Norris said Roddick turned down ``any real pain killers.''

Roddick said he might have pulled out of a lesser tournament, but ``I wasn't going to pull out of another Grand Slam.''

He quit during the second round of last year's Australian Open with a sprained ankle - he wore ankle braces this year - and stopped during his third-round match at the 2001 French Open because of a strained hamstring.

The wrist pain was tolerable when Roddick warmed up for his semifinal against Schuettler, and he thought adrenaline might pull him through. ``But it just didn't happen,'' Roddick said.

He was treated at various stages of the match by trainers, who taped the wrist and applied anti-inflammatory gels.

Still, Schuettler had a lot to do with the outcome. The German ``didn't make a lot of errors,'' Roddick said. ``He won the big points when he had to. He played me smart, considering the circumstances. He deserves to be in the final.''

Schuettler did a good job returning against Roddick, who hit one serve at a tournament-best 140 mph and averaged 123 mph on his first serve.

``My game is to play aggressive from the baseline. I just try to play my game. It's always the same,'' Schuettler said.

Agassi won the Australian Open in 1995, 2000 and 2001, but he didn't play last year because of a wrist injury. He's won his last 20 matches in the tournament.

``Maybe if he eats something wrong the day before, then I have a chance,'' Schuettler said.

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