Capriati calls the shots
<br />Jan 4, 2002<br />UNUS ALLADIN<br />-------------------
American Jennifer Capriati admitted tour rookie Angelique Widjaja caught her on a "really good day" after she stormed past the Indonesian 6-0, 6-1 in just 34 minutes in her opening match at the Hong Kong Ladies Challenge at Victoria Park last night.
The reigning Australian and French Open champion, who visited the Po Leung Kuk orphanage in Causeway Bay on Wednesday, was in no mood for any more charity as she got 2002 off to a flying start, saying afterwards she was almost spot-on for the defence of her title in Melbourne in less than a fortnight.
"I think I am in better form than last year," said world number two Capriati as she sent out an ominous warning to her rivals. "I just hope I can keep it up. I think I am in better shape for the Australian Open than last year and that has been my goal. I couldn't ask for a better match. It was my first match of the year and you couldn't ask for more. There's still room for improvement. I can still get into better shape. Today, it was almost a perfect match, but there are still a little things [to iron out].
"Let's see how I do in tougher matches. In those pressure matches, I think I am more physically prepared. I can still improve another 10 to 15 per cent and that's a tremendous [difference]," said Capriati, who plays South Africa's Amanda Coetzer in tonight's first semi-final.
It was only the second time in Widjaja's fledgling career that she had met the likes of Capriati, having received a similar lesson against Austria's Barbara Schett in last year's Fed Cup. The 17-year-old had not the slightest inkling as to how to stop the American comeback queen.
Capriati, 26, was full of praise for the young tour rookie, saying Widjaja still played well despite what the scoreline suggested. "She's a very talented player and she's got a lot of potential. I think I played really well and I didn't give her much of a chance to play. I caught her on a really good day.
"I am playing with more confidence compared with last year. I am more refreshed than last season. Last year, I started playing like it was from scratch, but now I am there [in fitness and form]."
Widjaja took the defeat in her stride, saying she would put accept it as valuable experience. "She's good. She's very consistent and it was very tough playing against her. It's OK. I lost the match but I don't think I played badly. There's a big difference between playing against the top junior in the world and the best senior player in the world. I think I have done my best," she said.
Widjaja has already won a professional tournament, in Bali last year, and given the fact that she has achieved something even Russian glamour girl Anna Kournikova has failed to do, the Indonesian can take heart. Widjaja was, after all, taking on probably the hottest player in the world at the moment.
Capriati can confidently march into this month's Australian Open knowing she is right on target as fitness is concerned. The assuring nod of the head between points and the power tennis that brought two Grand Slam titles last year was definitely back. Her accuracy with her returns was also back, evidenced by the winners sprayed all over the court.
Capriati was briefly troubled in the first game of the opening set with Widjaja holding break-point at 0-40, but the Florida native came straight back to hold serve. She then gained service breaks in the fourth and sixth games to coast through the first set.
The American was troubled again in the first game of the second set when Widjaja broke serve for the first time. But Capriati immediately broke back before breaking the Indonesian again in the fourth and sixth games. She then served out the match to complete the rout.
Meanwhile, Elena Dementieva was given a huge fright by Tamarine Tanasugarn before progressing to the last four. The world number 15 from Moscow came back from a set and 3-0 down in the second set to beat the 29th-ranked Thai 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. The 20-year-old Dementieva grew in confidence as the second set progressed and claimed the deciding set after breaking Tanasugarn in the 10th game to book a place in the second semi-final tonight against France's Mary Pierce.
<br />Stroll in the park: Jennifer Capriati unleashes a backhand during her 6-0, 6-1 win over Angelique Widjaja in her opening match of the Hong Kong Ladies Challenge at Victoria Park last night. <br />Picture by Dustin Shum
[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: JC2002 ]</p>