Way To Win It - Serena
"THANKS FOR THE WIN - SERENA" "YOU'VE PROVED AGAIN THAT YOU'RE A WINNER"
Sports: Williams powers past Capriati in the desert
Copyright © 2002
SportServer's Tennis Coverage
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By MEL REISNER, Associated Press
Serena Williams poses with her trophy after defeating Jennifer Capriati at the State Farm Tennis Classic.
AP Photo/Matt York
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (March 3, 2002 7:16 p.m. EST) - Serena Williams figures she owes her older sister a bunch of favors.
She paid off a big one Sunday, beating Jennifer Capriati 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the final of the State Farm Women's Tennis Classic.
The loss by Capriati means Venus Williams will keep the No. 1 world ranking for at least a second week.
"I owe her a ton," said Serena, who will improve from No. 9 to No. 6 when the WTA announces its rankings Monday.
Serena Williams spoke about the guilt she feels because Capriati beat her on the way to the Roland Garros title last year.
"I think at the French Open if I'd been more serious, if I'd got in better shape, that maybe Venus would be in better position right now, because I had a couple of chances to get Jennifer," Serena said. "And she (Venus) does a lot for me. When I'm at home alone I never eat. She gets there, she always cooks for me."
Serena Williams won in her first appearance in Scottsdale and first competition since she sprained her right ankle in a semifinal in Sydney in early January.
Capriati, displaced by Venus Williams a week ago, came in as the top-seeded player in the $583,000 Scottsdale event and No. 2 in the world.
But she wasn't able to regain the edge she once enjoyed against Serena, beating her four straight times - the last two in Grand Slam quarterfinals - after Williams won their first meeting in Berlin in 1999.
Williams ended the streak by winning a three-set final on a hard-court surface in Toronto last August, and overpowered Capriati in the harsh sunlight of the low desert in this meeting.
"I'm not disappointed because I didn't get to No. 1," said Capriati, who held the top ranking for nine weeks. "There's a lot of tournaments coming up and big matches coming up. I'm more disappointed that I didn't win this match, because I think I had my chances."
Williams, who finished 1999 ranked a career-best fourth after winning the U.S. Open and four other singles titles, made 68 unforced errors to Capriati's 43. But she also served 11 aces, ending the match with her second of the 10th game.
"I would have been able to do it a bit sooner if I could have got my serve in a little more, but a win's a win," Williams said. "I just need to take this home and watch some film, see what I can do better."
Before the final serve, Williams raced to the net for a smash off a low lob by Capriati, who could not clear the net with her return.
It was a flashback to the power game that Williams displayed in the first set, when she broke Capriati in the first, third and fifth games and held service to go ahead 5-0.
Capriati broke back in the sixth game and held service, but Williams won every point in the eighth game.
Capriati was unbeaten in 11 matches since qualifier Alexandra Stevenson upset her in the second round at Sydney, her first 2002 tournament, and won her second straight Australian Open title last month after becoming the first Grand Slam champion to fight off five match points in the final, a three-set win over Martina Hingis.
She showed the same pluck Sunday in the second set, countering Williams' strength with accurate groundstrokes and lobs.
She broke Williams in the second and fourth games to lead 3-1 and, after failing to hold service in the ninth game, broke Williams in the 10th.
In the final set, Capriati double-faulted three times in the pivotal third game, including on break point to send Williams to a 2-1 lead.
Capriati got the service break she was looking for in the eighth game to tie it 4-4, but Williams broke back in the next.
"I was able to break her serve, but I couldn't hold my serve," Capriati said. "I didn't have a high first-serve percentage (67 percent), and I didn't come in with big serves. Really, that was the difference: I broke and I got broke right back."
Venus Williams, who has won three titles this year, was upset by Sandrine Testud last week in the semifinals of the Dubai Women's Open after she appeared to hurt her left leg. She skipped the tournament to rest at home in Florida.