Capriati Survives Terrible Tuesday at French Open

Posted on June 2, 2004

The three heavily-favored players remaining in the women's quarterfinals were beaten Tuesday at the French Open, with Serena and Venus Williams, and French hope Amelie Mauresmo eliminated, suddenly elevating former winner Jennifer Capriati as the default favorite.

Serena was eliminated 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 for the second time in two meetings by countrywoman Capriati, while Venus was stunned 6-3, 6-4 by No. 6-seeded petulant Russian Anastasia Myskina.

"Finally, it's about time one of these went my way for once," said Capriati, who has developed a reputation for dropping three-setters on the big stage.

Capriati's leaping victory dance was interrupted when the chair umpire overruled a call, forcing her to replay match point, unleashing a stream of obscenity from Capriati's tennis-dad role model father Stefano, sitting close by in the stands.

"Calm down dad," Capriati said to her father from the court, waving her hand. Talk to the hand dad. Capriati then cooly clinched the match officially when Serena hit a tentative forehand off her back foot into the middle of the net, capping Capriati's second win over Serena in a little over two weeks after losing the previous eight to the powerful (on fast courts) younger Williams sister.

Serving at 1-2 in the third, Serena grabbed her left buttock (a handful at the least) seemingly in pain, and thereafter appeared limited in her pace of shot. Afterwards Serena, in typical post-conference fashion, denied there was an injury but refused to elaborate on the ass-incident.

For the most part the Serena-Capriati match was a racquet-technology bash-fest, almost devoid of any drop shots, changes of pace, sublime angles, or strategy. In the end Capriati's aggressive game proved too much for Serena, who committed almost twice the unforced errors as her counterpart trying to keep up.

The No. 3-seeded Mauresmo, clearly feeling the pressure after watching the Williams fall and after winning two titles during the French lead-up, was summarily dismissed by No. 9-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-3.

"I still have a lot of work to do to handle my emotions. It's getting repetitive at Roland Garros," Mauresmo said post-choke. "It's not a nightmare, there are worse things in life but it's an immense frustration not to be able to give it my best...You're more tense, the shots are not so good, the legs not so mobile. As a result, the balls go out by inches and it all goes from bad to worse." Mauresmo had beaten the Russian in six of their last eight encounters. Ouch.

The semifinals were rounded out by No. 14 seed Paola Suarez of Argentina, who stopped a three-Russian semi by providing too much consistency for No. 18 seed Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3.

Now the former No. 1 and Roland Garros winner Capriati, considered by few as a threat for the title and most as a chunky afterthought, is the only player among the four semifinalists to have held the trophy aloft.

Two men's quarterfinal matches were also played Tuesday, with the surprising Tim Henman employing his patient baseline game and timely net rushes to subdue No. 22 seed Juan Ignacio Chela 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

"Perhaps it's going to be three Argentineans and a Brit" in the semifinals, said the side-splitting Henman. "You could have gotten pretty long odds on that at the beginning of the fortnight." Don't quit your day job.

In the other quarterfinal, No. 3 seed Guillermo "El Mago" Coria continued his dominance over former Roland Garros winner and No. 5 seed Carlos Moya, stumping the Spaniard 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Into the men's doubles semis were Frenchmen (6)Michael Llodra/Fabrice Santoro (d. (4)Knowles/Nestor), and Belgians Xavier Malisse/Olivier Rochus (d. (9)Etlis/Rodriguez).

Today at Roland Garros features (12)Henman vs. Gaudio, (8)Nalbandian vs. (28)Kuerten, (4)Petrova/Shaughnessy vs. (5)Navratilova/Raymond, and (1)Ruano Pascual/Suarez vs. (7)Husarova/C.Martinez among other matches. Check your local listing for current times and channels.

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Serena Williams
had won seven straight Slam quarterfinal matches until Tuesday, when the same player, Jennifer Capriati, who beat her in her last QF loss back at Wimbledon 2001, socked it to her in remember-the-days fashion...Jennifer Capriati is appearing in her fourth Roland Garros semifinal...Elena Dementieva has reached her second career Slam final following her 2000 US Open run...A soggy track prevented Carlos Moya from overpowering mighty midget Guillermo Coria. Coria has now won nine straight sets over Moya, and has yet to drop a set at the 2004 French...When asked if Tim Henman had a chance against Guillermo Coria, Carlos Moya laughed in his post-match conference...Gustavo Kuerten has never lost to a South American in a Grand Slam. Check it (thanks stat monkey intern)...Kim Clijsters was in the stands watching the Serena-Jenny match....Why was Coria-Moya played on Lenglen and not on Chatrier?? Anyone??...Two Russian women in a Slam semi, that's a first...Paolo Suarez has reached her first Slam semi in singles, but in doubles she's reached the final in eight straight (winning four)...Gugu Kuerten likes to stay back -- way back. So how many dropshots will David Nalbandian hit? Triple digits?...Among the women's final four, only Jennifer Capriati has ever been to a Slam final...The ATP launched a new "global creative campaign" titled "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," to promote November's Masters Series-Paris. "The campaign's goal is to showcase, in the purest way possible, the essence of men's professional tennis: Passion and Performance," said David Higdon, ATP Vice President Corporate Communications. Nice load 'o P.R. pap. Make sure you always say "creative campaign," unless fans mistake it for an "uncreative campaign." Blame P.R. agency VML, an advertising and marketing firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, for the out-of-touch campaign development. Need more evidence? From the ATP release: "In promotional pieces, player images will depict the story of the sport, a man-versus-man duel showcased by action and reaction images -- the competition, or Performance, and the celebration, or Passion. "The tagline also emphasizes this tennis duel," Higdon said. "'Hit Me' expresses attitude and aggression while 'Best Shot' draws attention to the players' skill and athleticism." We'd like to "Hit you." Idiots. We thought that was an Aprils Fools release or something...Yes, the ATP Masters Cup is going back to Shanghai. That's good for tennis, why not just hold it in Iraq? Shanghai won the rights (by putting up the most cash, of course) to host the Masters Cup from 2005 to 2007. "ATP sent me a confirmation letter saying that the city had won the bid," said Yang Yibin, deputy manager of sports promoters Shanghai Xinxin. New facilities are being built in the Minghang district of Shanghai in order to house the event. Is it looking like the ATP is to tennis what the Bush Administration is to America? Time for an election...Here's Bud "Nice Pants" Collins: "What can I say now except that it looks like we were all wrong a couple of years ago when we thought that Serena and Venus Williams would own the WTA Tour for years to come. Just look at what happened in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and you'll understand that things have changed rather quickly and dramatically regarding the sisters. I can assure you that they aren't looking invincible to anyone these days, most especially not to the other players on tour." Easy Bud, they're coming off injuries on their worst surface. We'd say the chance of a Williams winning Wimbledon are 100 percent...Props to Jenny Capriati for the ability to play with that Prince Diablo; the wimp-ass Tennis-X staff play-tested that stick and it was like hitting with a wood racquet, no pop -- yet the, um, "burly" Capriati hits the shizznat out of the ball with that club...Lleyton Hewitt is trying to become the first Aussie to win at Roland Garros since Rod Laver in 1969...Tuesday at Roland Garros was the first time that both Williams sisters have lost at a tournament on the same day...11 of the 15 matches between Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams have gone three sets.