Sore Shoulder Leaves Capriati Questionable For Oz Open -
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Sore Shoulder Leaves Capriati Questionable For Oz Open

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Sore Shoulder Leaves Capriati Questionable For Oz Open

Photo By Angelo Tonelli By Tennis Week

Two-time Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati may sit out the season's first major for the second consecutive year. A strained shoulder that has limited Capriati to just two matches in the past three months could sideline her for the Australian Open, which starts on January 17th.
The 10th-ranked American will decide by Saturday if she will compete in the Australian Open tune-up tournament at Sydney, the Tier II Medibank International, which begins on Monday, according to a published report in The Courier-Mail written by Paul Malone.

Should Capriati withdraw from Sydney, it's unlikely she would enter the Australian Open the following week given the fact she's played only two matches since suffering a heart-breaking U.S. Open semifinal setback to Elena Dementieva a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Meghann Shaughnessy followed by a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing to Vera Zvonareva at Philadelphia in November. Capriati sat out the 2004 Australian Open with a back injury.

The 28-year-old Capriati pulled out of a charity exhibition with fellow Floridian Maria Sharapova scheduled for December 17th due to her sore shoulder.

An emotionally-intense competitor, Capriati may still be feeling the effects of her second successive devastating defeat at the U.S. Open. Capriati has served for a place in the U.S. Open final five times in three different matches she failed to close out Monica Seles when serving for a place in the 1991 final twice; served twice for a spot in the 2003 final against Justine Henin-Hardenne in a match where she was two points from victory on 10 different occasions before falling; and served for the match in September's semifinal against Elena Dementieva before suffering a heart-breaking 6-0, 2-6, 7-6(5) setback and has failed to seize any of those opportunities.

Since successfully defending her Australian Open championship in 2002 when she showed her ferocious fighting spirit by battling back from a 6-4, 4-0 deficit and saving four match points to score a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 victory over third-seeded Martina Hingis and capture her third Grand Slam championship in 13 months, Capriati has won just one tournament title the 2003 New Haven championship.

The former No. 1 has played only one match at the Australian Open since her second title triumph Down Under, blowing a 6-2, 4-1 lead before bowing 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in a first-round upset to Marlene Weingartner at the 2003 Australian Open. The then 22-year-old German had only surpassed the second round twice in her 16 prior Grand Slam appearances.

Despite that shocking loss, Capriati has produced her best Grand Slam results Down Under, registering a 28-6 career record and reaching at least the final eight in five of her eight Australian Open appearances.

Capriati could join 2004 Australian Open finalist Kim Clijsters on the sidelines. The former top-ranked Belgian, who has been hampered by a wrist injury since last spring, announced she will not seek a wild card into the Oz Open. Consequently, Clijsters will likely fall from the top 30 by the first week of February when she will lose her runner-up ranking points from the Open.

The 2005 season has started under the specter of more injuries to prominent players.

"We have seen the top 10 decimated. It's a combination of many factors, like some of them playing too much tennis at an early age, not having a long enough off-season and not taking off enough time between tournaments," Martina Navratilova told The Courier-Mail.

Related Story: Fila Will Not Renew Capriati's Contract
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