- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Andy Roddick loves the idea of playing Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open. Sampras, battling whispers about how his game has diminished, is happy to be at this stage against anybody.

Both of them came into the season's final Grand Slam hidden among the seedings, Roddick at No.11, Sampras at No.17, the result of so-so summers. Both have made dramatic statements about their games during this tournament, setting up a marquee match in today's quarterfinals.

The winner will advance to the semifinals against either Fernando Gonzalez or Sjeng Schalken, who play in today's other quarterfinal.

The other men's quarterfinals were played yesterday, with defending champion and top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt defeating No.20 Younes El Aynaoui 6-1, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-2 in a day match and No.6 Andre Agassi against No.32 Max Mirnyi at night.

Roddick and Sampras spent the day recovering from emotional, demanding fourth-round matches.

Roddick, limping on a sore and heavily wrapped left foot, came from behind to defeat No.26 Juan Ignacio Chela 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Sampras squandered a 2-0 lead in his tiebreaker and was forced to go four sets against No.3 Tommy Haas before winning 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5.

That set up the quarterfinal matchup that will bridge two eras of American tennis: that of Sampras and his record 13 Grand Slam titles, and Roddick, one of the game's rising young stars.

"I'm excited about playing Pete," Roddick said. "We're from the same country, from kind of generations that are overlapping. I grew up idolizing him. I have a great deal of respect for Pete and what he's done. It will be a very special moment for me out there.

"But, you know, having said that, I want to go out there and play some ball."

That's fine with Sampras, who is enjoying a professional renaissance. He has not won a tournament in 25 months but believes he still has more quality tennis to play. He has put some of it on display at the Open.

"This is the U.S. Open," he said. "You dig deep. You do whatever you can to win."

Roddick put that kind of grit on display against Chela.

He had dropped the first set and was hobbling in the second when Chela sent him on a merry chase from one end of the court to the other and back to the baseline for a between-the-legs return. Roddick somehow saved shot after shot and then won the point with a passing shot that left a stunned Chela glued in place.

The Open crowd went wild, and when Roddick's momentum left him near the side of the court, he skipped over a bench and exchanged high-fives with the fans, an exuberant, exciting moment for the tournament.

"I don't really remember it too well, because it was all reaction," Roddick said. "It wasn't like I was in control of anything out there. I was really reacting to what he was doing. At first, it was tough. I kind of hobbled toward the first ball a little bit. The crowd grew increasingly. They were giving me everything, so I have to give it my all.

"I think it helped turn things around. Definitely, I think it was one of the turning points out there."

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