Match of the day (c/p)
Women's Match of the Day
Roland Garros - Quarterfinal
Jennifer Capriati (7) def. Serena Williams (2) 6-3 2-6 6-3
And so the pattern continues: If Serena Williams wins a clay warmup, she wins Roland Garros. If she doesn't, she doesn't.
Of course, it's a rather limited set of data. There has only been one year, in her entire career, in which Serena won a clay title, and that was the year she won everything. But that was also the era when she seemed to have a stranglehold on Jennifer Capriati. That too has passed, as Capriati has beaten Serena in their last two meetings.
It was a story familiar to watchers of Williamses: Serena just made too many errors. Capriati, who clearly has been perked up by her recent coaching change, played much steadier tennis, not going for quite as much, and did a better-than-average job of caring for her serve (only four breaks in thirteen tries -- an amazing result on clay against Serena). She would manage only five breaks herself -- but they were enough.
The result is historic, because it means that Serena is out of the Top Ten for the first time since August 1999. (She has been at #10 a few times since then, but not below it.) Assuming she stays healthy, she will probably make it back this summer -- but likely not until the hardcourt season; she is, after all, Wimbledon champion. (Though, if she defends, we could see Svetlana Kuznetsova or someone fall out of the Top Ten at that time, since Kuznetsova has big Wimbledon points of her own.)
It's harder to say what this means for Capriati, both because she's still active and because she's in the midst of a big mass of players. So far, she still hasn't managed to move above her current #6. If she beats Myskina in the semifinal, she will move past Lindsay Davenport to #5 -- but that's a significant if. So we need to play at least one more round before we can forecast the final rankings in anything other than the extreme conditional.