first_img IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES But the 28-year-old dug deep and rallied to take the next two sets 6-4, 6-3 to book her place in the last 16.Sugiyama, the 15th seed, was the only Japanese player to advance to the quarterfinals as Shinobu Asagoe was swept aside in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 by former French Open winner Mary Pierce of France and Saori Obata lost to second-seeded Justin Henin-Hardenne of Belgium 6-1, 6-2.“I don’t have a good head-to-head record against Nicole, so to beat her here is really special,” said Sugiyama.“She played very aggressively and I missed plenty of easy shots but I was determined not to let the match slip away from me,” she added.Elsewhere, Japan’s Nana Miyagi and Czech partner Cyril Suk were knocked out of the mixed doubles after losing their second-round match 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (10-5) to Slovakian Janette Husarova and Leos Friedl of the Czech Republic.In the men’s, Taylor Dent upset No. 15 seed Fernando Gonzalez 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 thanks in large part to 26 aces and top-notch volleying, turning in the only upset of a seeded player Saturday at the U.S. Open.And yet it was about the most matter-of-fact happening on a wet and wacky day at the National Tennis Center. The total attendance was a record 57,115, and everywhere those fans went, something odd seemed to ensue:NEW YORK — Japan’s Ai Sugiyama produced a hard-fought come-from-behind win over Australia’s Nicole Pratt on Saturday to advance to the U.S. Open women’s singles quarterfinals for the first time in her career.Sugiyama got off to a sluggish start in the third-round match at USTA National Tennis Center, committing 24 unforced errors as she lost the first set 6-3.But the 28-year-old dug deep and rallied to take the next two sets 6-4, 6-3 to book her place in the last 16.Sugiyama, the 15th seed, was the only Japanese player to advance to the quarterfinals as Shinobu Asagoe was swept aside in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 by former French Open winner Mary Pierce of France and Saori Obata lost to second-seeded Justin Henin-Hardenne of Belgium 6-1, 6-2.“I don’t have a good head-to-head record against Nicole, so to beat her here is really special,” said Sugiyama.“She played very aggressively and I missed plenty of easy shots but I was determined not to let the match slip away from me,” she added.Elsewhere, Japan’s Nana Miyagi and Czech partner Cyril Suk were knocked out of the mixed doubles after losing their second-round match 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (10-5) to Slovakian Janette Husarova and Leos Friedl of the Czech Republic.In the men’s, Taylor Dent upset No. 15 seed Fernando Gonzalez 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 thanks in large part to 26 aces and top-notch volleying, turning in the only upset of a seeded player Saturday at the U.S. Open.And yet it was about the most matter-of-fact happening on a wet and wacky day at the National Tennis Center. The total attendance was a record 57,115, and everywhere those fans went, something odd seemed to ensue:Jennifer Capriati complained about the blimp hanging over Arthur Ashe Stadium.After 4 1/2 hours of action, Jonas Bjorkman had to wait out a three-hour rain delay to play one point and finish his victory.After a set, a game and a point, Andre Agassi’s match against Yevgeny Kafelnikov was put off for about 24 hours.French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne’s match was moved to tiny Court 11 when the Grandstand was deemed unusable because an air blower leaked oil while drying rainwater.Ivan Ljubicic held a news conference just to discuss his comments at a news conference the night before, when he criticized Andy Roddick’s on-court behavior.Ljubicic said he didn’t think he needed to apologize for ripping Roddick about his on-court behavior after losing to the rising star Friday night in a tight four-setter that ended shortly after midnight.As Ljubicic put it Saturday: “He is Andy Roddick, we are in the States, and if somebody says something bad about him, then it’s a big boom. . . .“I’m sorry if he’s expecting everybody’s going to like him,” Ljubicic added. “He thinks he’s the best, the greatest, the most beautiful. But that’s not the case.”According to Ljubicic, he was in his hotel room when he got a call from Roddick at 1:30 a.m. Roddick wanted to know why Ljubicic didn’t speak to him privately instead of airing his views through the media.Ljubicic said he told Roddick: “Andy, why do you care what others think about you?”Roddick called the comments “sour grapes” on Friday, but neither he nor coach Brad Gilbert would talk to reporters about the matter Saturday. Instead, Roddick issued a statement at night through the ATP Tour: “I had a good conversation with Ivan, both last night and again today. I think we both had the chance to clear the air, and I know that last night’s incident is behind us.”Capriati thought the blimp was closer to the court than normal, and found the noise distracting. Still, the three-time major champion persevered, eventually found a comfort zone and pounded out a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 victory over Emilie Loit to reach the round of 16.At least Capriati must have been thrilled to finish before the rain came.She will make the Open quarterfinals for a third straight year if she can beat No. 11 Elena Dementieva, who got past Amy Frazier 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-3) in another of the handful of matches completed before the first downpour of this Open made everyone put their rackets away.Dementieva was joined by fellow Russians No. 7 Anastasia Myskina and unseeded Dinara Safina, the younger sister of 2000 Open champion Marat Safin. With Nadia Petrova and Elena Likhovtseva having won Friday, there are five Russians in the round of 16.Agassi was leading Kafelnikov 6-3, 0-1 when their match was stopped. After about an hour’s rain delay, they came out and played a single point before the rain returned. They didn’t resume again because it would have delayed the start of the night session; they’ll continue Sunday. The winner will face the unseeded Dent. Another young American, Robby Ginepri, was ousted by 33-year-old Todd Martin 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-4. Martin, the 1999 runnerup, next plays French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero. The third-seeded Ferrero was given a rousing ovation after flicking a passing shot through his legs with his back to the net during a 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 33 Juan Ignacio Chela.Bjorkman had to wait to convert match point in his 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Karol Kucera. As sprinkles started falling, Bjorkman slipped twice in the middle of a rally on match point — prompting the chair umpire to take the highly unusual step of stopping play during a point. When they returned to the court after the three-hour delay, it took about 30 seconds for this sequence: fault, good serve, short rally, Kucera’s forehand hits net and drops wide, Bjorkman pumps a fist to celebrate.Bjorkman next faces No. 5 Guillermo Coria, who like Henin-Hardenne had to switch court assignments because of the oil spill.2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt advanced when Radek Stepanek quit because of muscle spams in his lower back while trailing 6-1, 3-0. Hewitt next faces No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan. center_img NEW YORK — Japan’s Ai Sugiyama produced a hard-fought come-from-behind win over Australia’s Nicole Pratt on Saturday to advance to the U.S. Open women’s singles quarterfinals for the first time in her career.Sugiyama got off to a sluggish start in the third-round match at USTA National Tennis Center, committing 24 unforced errors as she lost the first set 6-3.last_img