Jennifer Capriati, drained from an exhausting match with Italian Rita Grande, still had the energy at the Australian Open today to blast Marcelo Rios for his comments about women’s tennis.
The Chilean former world number one had said in Melbourne on Saturday that much of the women’s singles was ‘‘a joke’’ because of the lack of depth.
But defending champion Capriati countered: ‘‘Stupidity really deserves no answer back.
‘‘I think we all know what the truth is and that (what Rios said) is just a ridiculous comment.
‘‘I don’t know what he meant by it, but basically we shouldn’t really care. It doesn’t hurt me because it is obviously not true.’’
Third seed Martina Hingis has dropped just nine games in reaching the quarter-finals, just as she did last year, but Capriati dropped a set in the third round and today had to endure a marathon second set tie-break.
Rios, unseeded now after three injury-hit years, stands by what he said and had the chance to say more after knocking out 23rd seed Nicolas Lapentti to reach the last eight.
‘‘It is ridiculous what is going on in women’s tennis and in the locker room everybody agreed.
‘‘I’m not going to start arguing with every girl that says it’s not true. Everybody thinks different and good for her (Capriati) if she doesn’t think like that.
‘‘I’m not saying that guys are better than girls and all that. I said I think that until the quarters girls win too easy.’’
Capriati and 20th seed Grande were both treated to a standing ovation after the American top seed won 6-3 7-6.
The tie-breaker was taken 11-9 by Capriati, but only on her fourth match point after she had saved two set points - and after the umpire had made an unusual interruption.
The drama was such that at 9-9 Capriati was about to serve when the umpire stopped her and told the two players to change ends. Grande then sent a forehand long and double-faulted to go out.
A relieved Capriati said: ‘‘I didn’t even know the score I was just trying to suck air.
‘‘In the second set she played really well, really picked up her game and was not missing at all.
‘‘It’s tough to play her. She does not give the ball much pace and it was a test of my patience. I even got in a slicing battle with her at times.’’
Capriati next plays 1999 runner-up and seventh seed Amelie Mauresmo, the French 22-year-old beating German Marlene Weingartner 6-0 4-6 7-5.
There were two more one-sided women’s matches today and it means a quarter-final clash between young Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.
Wimbledon runner-up Henin was a surprisingly easy 6-0 6-3 winner over 12th-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva, but it came as no surprise when fourth seed Clijsters thrashed 69th-ranked Slovakian Janette Husarova 6-0 6-2.
The other half of the draw has Venus Williams against Monica Seles and Hingis against Italian Adriana Serra Zanetti.
In stark contrast to the men seven of the top eight seeds are in the quarter-finals, the exception being Serra Zanetti, who took advantage of Serena Williams’ withdrawal.