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Clijsters slips into lead between the raindrops

Kim Clijsters seized a 3-0 lead over French fifth seed Amelie Mauresmo on Wednesday before drizzling ran suspended their US Open quarter-final match after only 10 minutes.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2003 17:17 IST

World number one Kim Clijsters seized a 3-0 lead over French fifth seed Amelie Mauresmo here Wednesday before drizzling ran suspended their US Open quarter-final match after only 10 minutes.

Showers shut down the year's final Grand Slam tournament for the third day in a row and fourth time in five days, pouring just enough to slicken Arthur Ashe Stadium and keep all other scheduled matches from taking the court.

Only three matches have been completed in two days because of the downpour, which threatens to extend the US Open beyond a second Sunday for the first time since 1987.

Clijsters, who was eliminated by Mauresmo here a year ago, is the first top-ranked woman without a Grand Slam title. A victory over Mauresmo would ensure she keeps her top spot after the Open, breakthrough title or no.

After starting three hours later, Clijsters saved a break point in the opening game when Mauresmo netted a forehand and won a break-point against Mauresmo the same way. The 20-year-old Belgian held again before rain resumed.

Clijsters is 71-9 this year, the most victories at this stage since 1974, and has won a WTA-best six titles this year. She has reached the semi-finals in 14 of 15 events and doing so here will ensure her best Flushing Meadows result.

Mauresmo, also seeking her first Slam title, seeks her second semi-final in a row here. She missed four months with an injured right knee at the start of the year and missed Wimbledon with a rib injury.

US third seed Lindsay Davenport and Argentina's Paola Suarez were warming up when rains returned, each hoping to meet the Clijsters-Mauresmo winner in a semi-final whenever conditions allow.

The only man into the quarter-finals was world number one Andre Agassi, who won Tuesday when fellow American Taylor Dent retired with a right hamstring tear.

Japanese 15th seed Ai Sugiyama had just unzipped her racket bag when rain forced her back to the locker room, an all-too familiar trip since it marked the fifth time since starting Monday that she has left the court.

Sugiyama led Italy's Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (7/5), 5-4 when rain halted their fourth-round match Tuesday, having served for the set in the ninth game only to be broken. Rain suspended them three times Monday, the last at 6-6.

When the tie-breaker began Tuesday night, Sugiyama swatted a backhand winner from the baseline past a stretching Schiavone to seize a 6-5 edge and the Italian netted a backhand on the next point to hand the Asian ace the set.

Russian seventh seed Anastasia Myskina was also looking at the finish of a three-day ordeal. She led France's Mary Pierce 7-6 (7/2), 2-0 when their match was halted Tuesday but they never had a dry court in the first gap Wednesday.

Seven men's fourth round matches, three of them already started, were on hold Wednesday, including the resumption of Thai 11th seed Paradorn Srichaphan against Australian sixth seed Lleyton Hewitt, with Paradorn ahead 4-3.

Third seed Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open champion from Spain, led American Todd Martin 6-2 while Guillermo Coria, the fifth seed from Argentina, led Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 2-0 in a match for the right to play Agassi.

Asian-American star Michael Chang, who retired last week, had his retirement ceremony washed down the drain Tuesday and rescheduled for Wednesday, provided the uncooperative weather subsided.

Swiss second seed Roger Federer was scheduled to meet Argentina's David Nalbandian, who owns a 4-0 pro record against the reigning Wimbledon champion as well as a victory over Federer in the 1998 US Open junior boys final.

Nalbandian, US fourth seed Andy Roddick and Dutch 12th seed Sjeng Schalken were trying to match Swedish star Stefan Edberg's feat of winning US Open men's and boys crowns, the junior one coming in 1983 and men's in 1991 and 1992.

First Published: Sep 04, 2003 11:28 IST