View Full Version : 2002:Cinderella Is Here to Stay

Apr 23rd, 2002, 10:19 PM
The hard return
Sports Illustrated Women; New York; Dec 2001-Jan 2002; L Jon Wertheim

Volume: 3 Issue: 8
Start Page: 58-62



last winter, the first Grand Slam title of her improbable career. Forget about her dramatic victory at the French Open injune. The defining moment of jennifer Capriati's gilded year came on an infernally hot August afternoon at a marginal tournament. At the Acura Classic in San Diego, Capriati faced Monica Seles in the quarterfinals.

As the match progressed, Seles unleashed her signature stuck-pig grunt every time she hit the ball. Capriati, distracted and annoyed, glowered at Seles. As the two walked to their chairs for a changeover, Capriati flashed her opponent a death stare that screamed, "Shut the %@*# up!" When that failed to effect any change, Capriati chucked her racquet onto the asphalt court, dropped a few curses and appealed to the chair umpire to intervene. "Tell her to stop," Capriati demanded.

Understand that women's tennis doesn't suffer trash-talk gladly. Understand, too, that

ever since she failed to regain her form after being stabbed on court nearly a decade ago, Seles has been a politically untouchable player who can do no wrong. Capriati didn't care. The grunting was, in Capriati's words, "pissing me off." And damned if she was going to stand for it simply because the player on the other side of the net was Monica Seles. After losing the match, Capriati was still livid. "That was the loudest she's ever been," she complained. "I know that everybody grunts. I grunt. But I don't absolutely scream when I hit the ball."

If the WTA tour has been likened to a high school-awash in cliques, gossip and jealousies-calling out Seles was the equivalent of dissing Miss Popularity. Capriati, reformed but ever the rebel, was still unapologetic months later. "I was trying to win," she says. "Look, I'm going to do what I have to do. Good players can be soft. Great ones can't."

Great. The journey was especially torturous, but Jennifer Capriati is finally great. In 2 ox she at last exceeded the expectations that were foisted upon her a decade ago, when she was hailed as the heiress apparent to Chris Evert. At age 25, after years of personifying burnout and too-much-too-soon, she blossomed to win two majors and seize the No. 1 ranking from Martina Hingis, who'd held the position for 209 weeks. "It was like a movie: Will Jennifer make it back?" says Hingis. "We knew that she had a ton of talent, but I don't think anyone would have guessed the story would have gone like this."

Everyone loves a comeback. Capriati's is particularly appealing because she wrote the script on her own terms, defiant and ruthless. The experts were right, after all, about her ability to play superlative tennis, but so wrong about her disposition. Cast as the happy-go-lucky kid whose appeal would transcend the sport, she turned out to be as tough as a $2 steak. As she does when she plays, Capriati fires away without inhibition off the court. It's not that she's among the legion of prima donnas on tour-in fact, she's generally pleasant. It's just that she's past caring what the world thinks of her.

"I've been criticized for so much of my life. What more can I do wrong?" she says. "I've had a lot of issues that make you hesitant to be yourself It's taken me a while to feel comfortable and be comfortable showing my face. But this is my true self I finally decided: I'm just going to let it fly."


stories of athletes who make triumphant returns, but Capriati's has a twist. She didn't overcome the fates dealing her a lousy hand; she was responsible for her trouble. Yet in an odd way this makes her comeback all the more heroic. There was plenty of blame to go around, but ultimately Capriati mucked things up herself. In the end, she extricated herself, too.

"I'm in charge now," she says. "This is my life I'm living."

A tennis prodigy, who appeared with Evert in Tennis magazine at age eight, Capriati turned pro in the spring of 1990, a few weeks shy of her 14th birthday. Hitting ground strokes with a violent torque, she reached the final of her first tournament. She charmed Madison Avenue with her gum-smacking teenage mannerisms and endearingly naive Valley Girl speak. By year's end she had a top io ranking and $6 million in endorsements with companies ranging from Rolex to Oil of Olay

By the time she was 17, she was crashing as spectacularly-and as publicly-- as she had ascended. Wilting under the weight of expectations, her tennis regressed. She nearly broke down on the court after losing in the first round of the 1993 U.S. Open to the 37th-- ranked Leila Meshki. Beset by adolescent claustrophobia and shocked by the breakup of her parents' marriage, she went into full rebel mode. In December 1993 she was cited for shoplifting a ring from a Tampa mall. Less than five months later, after moving away from home and settling in South Florida, she was arrested at a Coral Gables fleabag motel. Though she was busted for marijuana possession (and did multiple court-ordered stints in drug rehab), others in the hotel room, who were at the small party which Capriati allegedly bankrolled, were charged with possession of heroin and crack cocaine. Suddenly Capriati's disconsolate, puffy face, raccoon eyes and pierced nose were all featured on a ubiquitous mug shot: Case No. 94-9819.

Having lost interest in tennis-her sponsors and most of her entourage having long since vanished-Capriati spent her days holed up in her room. Thoughts of suicide did not escape her. "She spent a lot of time in darkness," says her mother, Denise. Her father, Stefano, encouraged her to get back to tennis. In the winter of 1996 Capriati started a fitful series of comeback attempts, but her self-esteem was shot to hell. In her absence a brigade of concussive ball strikers, such as Lindsay Davenport and Venus and Serena Williams, had infiltrated women's tennis, making the field deeper than ever. Over-weight and out of shape, ranking a dismal Soth, Capriati gave serious thought to quitting altogether and getting on with life.

"I was questioning so much in my life," she says. "Why is this happening? Why are so many people who don't know me criticizing me? I wanted to come out of my shell, but I wasn't sure yet. I didn't want to get hurt."

Slowly but steadily she emerged from her carapace of fear and self-loathing. In the spring of 1999 she won her first title in more than six years, beating four higher-ranked players. By early 2000 Capriati had made immense strides and had reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, but she slid back again. Distracted by injuries and a turbulent romance with Xavier Matisse, then an underachieving player on the men's tour, Capriati abruptly split with her coach, Harold Solomon, and enlisted Stefano as a replacement. Meanwhile, Denise was undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer. Capriati ended the year with a desultory loss to Anna Kournikova (never a good sign) and failed to achieve her goal of finishing in the top io. "I was getting no satisfaction out of tennis," she says. "For whatever reason, the results weren't coming. People said, `Look how far you've come,' but I felt I was wasting my time. Finally I was like, Do this thing right, or don't do it."

She returned to Florida at the end of the season and summoned her trainer, Karen Burnett, to whip her into shape. While the other players were vacationing, Capriati spent the winter in the gym, in the pool and on the track. When she showed up for the 2ooi season, she looked like a Method actress who had gotten her body into shape for a part. "She walked into the locker room," recalls Davenport, "and it was like, Uh, Jennifer, is that you?" The linebacker arms, tight stomach and vastly improved stamina helped Capriati's tennis. More important, her new body set in motion a self-perpetuating cycle. "When Jennifer feels better about herself, she plays better," says Denise. "When she plays better, she feels better about herself"

This newly bolstered self-assurance carried over to the rest of her life. The likes and ya knows, earmarks of youthful insecurity, disappeared from her conversations. She stopped dwelling on her breakup with Malisse. ("My racquet is now my Prince Charming," she says.) The baggy clothes were replaced with skintight, belly-baring numbers. Dave Matthews, not Led Zeppelin, blares from the CD player in her Range Rover. Once a shrine to all things Goth, Capriati's bedroom in her home in Wesley Chapel, Fla., is now

Ian Schrager-hip, dominated by oversized furniture and upbeat colors. "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual," she says, "and after all the darkness, the light started shining."


hand return past Martina Hingis on match point and won the Australian Open last January, her transformation from cautionary tale to fairy tale was complete. The agents and sponsors could breathe a sigh of relief Stefano, the coach, long accused of having driven his daughter to the brink, was exonerated. "If Jennifer had quit the sport then and there," says John McEnroe, "it would still have been the sports story of the decade."

When she returned home there was no victory bender, no vacation, no talkshow circuit. After a day to get over jet lag she was back in the gym and on the practice court, sweat rivering down her back. "People were afraid that once I tasted success I would lose the motivation," she says. "But I learned that it's the opposite: You want to keep it going."

At the next major, the French Open, she wiped the court with Hingis and Serena Williams to make the final. Capriati played a miserable first set against Belgian upstart Kim Clijsters. While at one time this would have been her cue to fold, this time it galvanized her. After coming within two points of losing, she prevailed 12-10 in the third set, a testament both to her physical strength and her competitive grit. Somewhere along the line she had acquired the taste for combat.

Capriati came to Wimbledon halfway to a Grand Slam- the ultimate achievement in tennis. In the quarterfinals she was down a set and 3-5, 0-30 to Serena Williams. She steeled herself, reeling off seven straight games, and she eventually took the match with a go-for-broke ace. Afterward, when Williams blamed the loss on an ailment, Capriati declined to play nice. "It happens every time I play her," she said, rolling her eyes. Capriati lost her next match but was scarcely upset. "I'm happy with the way the year has gone so far."

This newly happy, tough Jennifer Capriati doesn't care to visit the past. Those hoping for a play-by-play of what went down in that seedy hotel room nearly eight years ago will be disappointed. She refers to her downfall only abstractly-"a path of quiet rebellion," "tough times" and "old news" are her euphemisms of choice-and to the dismay of some, she has never shown remorse. She simply doesn't care.

Yet she has taken pains to avoid her previous mistakes. Before, she allowed herself to be pulled like a wishbone by sponsors, agents and other corporate slicks. These days her only sponsors are tennis-related ones. "She has turned down millions in endorsements, some from companies that only want her to wear patches on her arm when she plays," says one tennis agent. "It's unheard of, but to her it's not worth the hassle." Before, she traipsed all over the globe to play exhibitions, faxing her homework from sterile hotel rooms in japan, Germany and Mexico. These days she limits her playing schedule to tournaments. Before, she was a media darling. These days she rarely gives one-on-one interviews and, to the tour's dismay, has turned down countless invitations to chat with Dave, Jay and Regis.

"I don't care about the stardom and the hype," she says flatly. "The tennis is what matters to me. I look back on this year, and I'm relieved, I'm happy, I'm proud. I guess it all makes for a good story, but it's not like it's over yet. +

Apr 25th, 2002, 11:27 PM
I just have this vision of Jenny, being Cinderella and Venus, Serena and Martina are the evil sisters....LOL! ;) :wavey: :bounce: :D

Apr 26th, 2002, 02:25 AM
Whose going to be the Wicked Step-mother then, Oizo? :D

Apr 26th, 2002, 03:49 AM
Originally posted by TeNnIsFaN
Whose going to be the Wicked Step-mother then, Oizo? :D

Richard Williams in skirt

Apr 26th, 2002, 09:07 AM
ROTFLMAO! :D :D :D Thatīs a good answer Zhao! :cool: :wavey:

Apr 26th, 2002, 10:08 PM
LOL!!!:D :D :D :D :D :D

Apr 26th, 2002, 10:09 PM
btw, thanks for the article, rollo! :kiss:

Apr 26th, 2002, 10:56 PM
:wavey: @ Rollo!

Apr 27th, 2002, 03:27 AM
Oh gosh Zhao, I'm going to have nightmares for days seeing Richard Willaims in a skirt. However, he does make a good wicked step- mother, so no complaining there, just the imagining part...lol

Nice article Rollo!! :D

Apr 28th, 2002, 10:56 PM
LOL Tennisfan! :D :wavey:

Apr 30th, 2002, 08:23 PM
All of you crack me up:) Jen has such funny fans.

Capriati Gets a Quick Victory
The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Jan 4, 2002;

Jennifer Capriati won her opening match at the Hong Kong Ladies Challenge in 34 minutes, routing Indonesia's Angelique Widjaja, 6-0, 6-1.

The world's second-ranked player, preparing to defend her Australian Open title this month, was hardly tested by the 17-year- old rookie, ranked 147th.

"I think I am in better form than I was at this time last year," said Capriati, who also won the French Open last season.

"I think I am in better shape for the Australian Open and that's my goal."

Capriati will play Amanda Coetzer in today's semifinals.


Apr 30th, 2002, 08:25 PM
Stevenson Upsets Capriati
New York Times; Jan 10, 2002;

Alexandra Stevenson had to get back to tennis. She simply did not know what to do with all the grief that resulted from the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

A high school friend, 20-year-old Deora Bodley, died aboard the hijacked jet that crashed in Pennsylvania. The promise of romance also ended that day. Stevenson was supposed to meet Manny Del Valle, a firefighter, at the World Trade Center for dinner and dancing on Sept. 13. But he died there in the rubble doing his job.

Stevenson, a 21-year-old Californian, sampled life's cruel lessons in 1999 during a startling run to the Wimbledon semifinals as a qualifier. At about that time, it was disclosed that the basketball great Julius Erving was her father. And during the tournament, her mother made accusations of racism and lesbianism on the WTA Tour.

Today, after beating Jennifer Capriati, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4, at the Adidas International, Stevenson spoke of her recent heartache.

She and Del Valle, her driver, became close at the United Stated Open last September. Del Valle --especially provided consolation after her heartbreaking first-round loss and gave her a book of quotations for inspiration. They grew even closer and planned a Sept. 13th date. But by then the buildings were gone, as was Del Valle, only 32

Stevenson said she cried for a month.

''But I had to go back to work,'' she said, after dropping from a career-high ranking of 33rd in February 2000 to No. 112 in about 12 months. ''I went to Europe and played five weeks in a row. It was really tough but it made me stronger.''

Her ranking improved to No. 60 by the end of 2001. Now she is thinking big heading into next week's Australian Open.

''Everyone is always talking about the power of the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport and Capriati,'' she said. ''And in six months it is going to be Alexandra Stevenson.''

But her confidence is tempered by loss. And she now saves a seat for Del Valle at every tournament, right beside her mother.

Apr 30th, 2002, 08:27 PM
Capriati Returns to The Place of Her Rebirth; Australian Open Champ Has Smooth Draw to Final
The Washington Post Jan 13, 2002;

Jennifer Capriati began her startling run to No. 1 at the Australian Open. A repeat victory in this Grand Slam event wouldn't be a Washington Post Company Jan 13, 2002

Jennifer Capriati began her startling run to No. 1 at the Australian Open. A repeat victory in this Grand Slam event wouldn't be a surprise.

Capriati is seeded first in the tournament, which starts Monday in Melbourne, because Lindsay Davenport pulled out with a knee injury.

That means Capriati won't confront the big-hitting Williams sisters or Martina Hingis until the final because they're in the other half of the draw.

Since Capriati won her first Grand Slam title at Melbourne, she added a second major at the French, then rose to No. 1 before ending the year No. 2.

So much has changed for Capriati, and not even a hip injury in Sydney this week puts her at a great disadvantage. It seems all the top women are injured.

Davenport is out for at least four months after undergoing surgery on her right knee. Serena Williams turned her right ankle and quit during a semifinal in Sydney on Friday. Hingis was weakened by the heat and had sore legs while winning against Kim Clijsters. Clijsters had her own troubles -- she said she had nerve problems in her right arm.

All but Davenport were confident of being fit by the start of the Australian Open, including Serena Williams.

"It's looking really positive for me -- I definitely think this [injury] isn't going to stop me," Serena Williams said.

Older sister Venus, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, is seeded second and is the one top five player without a new ailment. She won the WTA event in Australia this month and then took time off to rest.

Hingis has the toughest assignment, a repeat of what she faced to reach last year's final. She faces a probable quarterfinal against Serena and a semifinal against Venus before a possible rematch with Capriati.

"It's quite reasonable," she said of Friday's draw. "It is pretty similar -- the advance rounds -- but I just think one step at a time."

Hingis is returning from a three-month layoff with an ankle injury. During that time she lost the No. 1 ranking after 73 consecutive weeks.

She is intent on adding to her five Grand Slam singles trophies. She won the Australian Open from 1997 to '99, but hasn't won a Grand Slam title since.

Capriati's breakthrough last January capped a stunning comeback after a tumultuous decade. She tumbled after reaching the semifinals at the 1990 French Open at 14 and winning an Olympic gold medal in 1992.

Besides winning the Australian Open and the French Open, she made the semis at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She was upset in the second round in Sydney last week to qualifier Alexandra Stevenson.

"I'm looking forward to starting all over," she said. "But I don't want to get ahead of myself. . . . I'll put pressure on myself that way."

But Hingis offers this warning: "If you're at the top, everyone is going to try to beat you."

May 9th, 2002, 07:12 PM
Capriati Sharp

Jennifer Capriati began defense of her Australian Open championship with precision shotmaking that made short work of Silvija Talaja.

The top seed won, 6-4, 6-1, in slightly more than an hour. She finished by blasting a forehand serve return that rocked Talaja back on her heels. Then Capriati put her away with an easy forehand.
Capriati became No. 1 in the rankings after Lindsay Davenport recently injured her knee.

"I like the feeling and I want to try to keep it for a while, and set a new goal for myself and a new challenge and take myself to a new level in my career," Capriati said.

In the first set, she staved off a game point with some fine running, angling a backhand volley one way and then dashing to the other side for a forehand cross-court winner. Two points later, she had a break for 5-2.

On set point, she followed a good serve with a short, sharply angled forehand on the sideline.

In the second set, she broke for 2-1 with a forehand to one sideline and a backhand to the other, and never lost another game.

May 9th, 2002, 07:16 PM
In the secondround she advanced over Meilen Tu.

The pressures at the Australian Open are different these days for Jennifer Capriati, the defending champion, and Pete Sampras, winner of a record 13 Grand Slam singles titles.

Surrounded by upsets and injuries that thinned the field, both have advanced to the third round of the season's first major -- Capriati still not 100 percent after a hip injury, Sampras no longer the sport's No. 1 player.

Capriati fell behind 1-3 in her second set, then stepped up her attack and ousted American Meilen Tu, 6-1, 6-3, in 55 minutes. "I definitely don't want to be out there for three sets," she said.

Health is more of a worry after injuring her hip five days before the Open's start.

"With the wind and everything and being a little bit chilly this year, it's not recovering to the full extent yet," Capriati said. "I think it will be all right as the tournament goes on and I play more matches and get more treatment. It's good that the last two matches weren't really difficult so I could save something for the upcoming matches."

Next up for Capriati is Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, a 6-2, 4-6, 6- 0 winner over No. 29 Tatiana Panova of Russia.

May 9th, 2002, 07:22 PM
Anger Works for Capriati; Australian Open: Unhappy with a third-set overrule, she heats up in 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory

When Jennifer Capriati argued, to no avail, about a vital overrule against her in the opening game of the third set, it appeared to signal the end of her Australian Open title defense. After all, she was hobbled, hot and hunted.


Not one, but two injured legs.


Summer finally arrived in Melbourne and the temperature inched close to 90 degrees today during Capriati's match against No. 81- ranked Eleni Daniilidou of Greece. And, on court, it was considerably warmer. Hunted?

As the defending champion and top-seeded player, Capriati is no longer the automatic sentimental favorite every time she steps on the court. It's normal when the hunter turns into the hunted, as former champion Martina Hingis is fond of saying. The turnabout was more pronounced because Melbourne's large Greek community packed the house at Vodafone Arena and threw its support behind Daniilidou, drawing a reprimand from the chair umpire after cheering a Capriati double fault.

The chair umpire, Jane Harvey, turned into a key figure in the third set when she made an overrule in Daniilidou's favor. The Greek teenager hit a forehand winner on break point, catching the corner and the shot was called out. Capriati was irate at the overrule and lost of the first game of the decisive set.

"Look at the mark, you can see it," Capriati said. This being Melbourne, and not Paris, Harvey stayed in the chair.

What happened next would seem extraordinary to those who have not watched Capriati very often. She got angry, put some additional power behind her groundstrokes and did not lose another game, defeating Daniilidou, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, in 1 hour 41 minutes. Daniilidou admitted afterward that she was "a little nervous." Something similar happened to Capriati here in the fourth round last year. She felt she received a bad call in her match against Marta Marrero of Spain, trailing 1- 5. After Capriati threw a small tantrum, a longtime friend walked over to the press section and said: "Watch this." And Capriati lost only one more game.

Today, the situation was more difficult. Capriati has been struggling with a hip flexor injury on both sides and needed treatment during the match, having both legs wrapped. It impacted her service motion and she finished with an uncommon amount of double faults (10). Capriati will play Rita Grande of Italy in the fourth round. The trainers were busy during Grande's match against No. 16 Iroda Tulyagonova of Uzbekistan, needing to treat both players. Grande finally prevailed, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

May 9th, 2002, 07:25 PM
Capriati Tops Grande, Advances to Quarterfinals
The Washington Post; Washington, D.C.; Jan 21, 2002;

Defending champion Jennifer Capriati fought her way into the Australian Open quarterfinals today, beating determined Rita Grande, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9).

The match ended with a double fault, the 10th point against service in the final 11 in the tiebreaker. At 9-9, the players were so caught up with the match that they forgot to change ends.

"It was a tough way to end the match, and I was sorry for her. But thanks for that," Capriati said of the final double fault.

Capriati will face seventh-seeded Amelie Mauresmo in the quarterfinals. Mauresmo struggled to beat Marlene Weingartner, 6-0.
Capriati squandered her first match point with three errors while serving at 5-4 in the second set.

Grande, ranked No. 29, then missed a good chance to take the set when she netted an overhead smash at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. She lost another chance at 8-7 when Capriati hit a winning backhand serve return.

Capriati laughed off a netted backhand volley on her second match point, at 7-6, and missed another chance with a lob too long at 9-8. She gained her final match point when Grande hit a forehand wide.

"She played really well, and especially toward the end she really picked up her game and wasn't missing at all," Capriati said.

May 9th, 2002, 07:28 PM
Seles vs. Hingis; Capriati vs. Clijsters
The Washington Post Jan 23, 2002;

Defending champion Jennifer Capriati played her way out of trouble and advanced to the Australian Open semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory today over Amelie Mauresmo.

Capriati next meets Kim Clijsters, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Justine Henin. Capriati was extended to 12-10 in the final set before beating Clijsters for last year's French Open title.

Capriati lost the first two points before breaking Mauresmo's serve in the first game. Then, in two games in the first set and one in the second, she saved a total of six break points.

She had help from occasional wild play by Mauresmo, who squandered a 40-0 lead in the third game of the second set with three consecutive double faults. Mauresmo had 34 unforced errors to Capriati's 20.

"I'm glad I could raise my game," Capriati said. "This is where it all counts -- how you do in the Grand Slams."

After a promising debut as a 14-year-old in 1990 and then a series of personal problems, Capriati finally won her first major tournament title at last year's Australian Open. She followed that with the French Open title and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

"It feels like I've graduated to the next level," Capriati said. "I feel a lot better this year."

Before Capriati's victory, Clijsters referred to her loss to the American in last year's French Open final, and said, "It would be nice to be able to play her again."

Clijsters also pressured No. 6 Henin into costly errors in her advance to the semifinals. Clijsters and Henin have enjoyed a similar rise to the upper ranks of women's tennis. Both won their first tournament titles in 1999, and both reached their first Grand Slam event semifinals at the 2001 French Open.

After Clijsters was runner-up at the French, Henin reached the finals at Wimbledon, losing to Venus Williams. Henin had 30 unforced errors to 15 by Clijsters.

May 9th, 2002, 07:34 PM
Capriati to Defend Title vs. Hingis
The Washington Post Jan 25, 2002;

In the women's final Saturday, defending champion Jennifer Capriati will meet three-time winner Martina Hingis.

Capriati, who won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year by beating Hingis, advanced with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 victory over fourth-seeded Kim Clijsters.

Capriati, the French Open champion, is seeking her third title in her last five Grand Slam tournaments. Hingis reached her sixth straight Australian Open final by beating four-time champion Monica Seles, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Hingis believes she has the upper hand for the rematch with Capriati.

"It will be great to play her in the finals. Now it's the other way around -- she has to defend the title and I'm the rookie."

Capriati admitted that Hingis was in the unusual position as underdog.

"For the first time, going up against her, it's like I'm the one favored to win," Capriati said. "I know definitely how she feels, being in that position, because I was in that position last year. I know she wants it bad, but I want it bad, too."

Against Clijsters, Capriati was inconsistent as she split the opening two sets before dominating the third.

"Obviously, I'm pretty fatigued right now," Capriati said. "We were doing a lot of running, a lot of hard hitting out there."

In their previous meeting, Capriati edged Clijsters 12-10 in the third set to win the 2001 French Open. The deciding set was the longest in a women's final at Roland Garros.

Capriati said she allowed Clijsters to dictate too much in the second set, "but I changed it up a bit, became more aggressive, and it started to work. Eventually, she just broke down."

Clijsters finished with 46 errors, including 24 in the first set. She won only one point at the net in the third and didn't hit a backhand winner. Capriati won five of her six points at the net in the deciding set and had eight winners against two for Clijsters.

"It was weird. I was very motivated after winning the second set. I felt she was struggling a little bit -- I could hear her puff," Clijsters said. "I wanted to make her run, but she just played too good. She played the points short, finished them off as soon as she could."

May 9th, 2002, 07:38 PM
Funny bit on Jen's service toss:)

Hingis and Capriati Ready For Rematch in Australia
New York Times Jan 25, 2002; Christopher Clarey;

MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 24

There was more relief than delight on the faces of Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis after they advanced to the Australian Open final. Both women have been here before, and both knew that their return trips were in genuine jeopardy of being canceled on Thursday.

If not for a final unforced error from Monica Seles, she and Hingis might still be playing. If not for Kim Clijsters's teenage shot selection at the end of the first set against Capriati, she might have become the first Belgian woman in an Australian Open final.

Instead, Hingis beat Seles, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, and Capriati beat Clijsters, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. Hingis and Capriati will play the final on Saturday.

This year's final will be the same as last year's final, but in name only. A year ago, Capriati was still in the process of rebuilding after having repaired her foundations, and Hingis was still considered the player to beat.

Now, Capriati is No. 1, a global symbol of resilience, and Hingis is an under-powered woman with questionable confidence trying to make good again.

Despite ankle surgery in October, Hingis looks extremely quick and fit, and despite the poundings she has taken from the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport in recent years, she looks eager, too. Maybe she's eager because Davenport and one Williams sister (Serena) didn't play here because of injuries and the best Williams sister (Venus) couldn't find a way to shake off a leg injury and get past Seles.

Or maybe Hingis is eager because she shored up a few of her weaknesses during her unusually long break from the sport she was born, named and raised to play.

''I always loved this game,'' Hingis said. ''It's just sometimes it was too much.

''It's not like I have this body of a robot,'' she added. ''I mean, sometimes it's probably good to have a forced break. It doesn't necessarily have to be an injury. But I think you learn from mistakes and you get behind things a little bit different, and you get smarter. You just know where your limits are.''

Hingis and her mother/coach/stringer Melanie Molitor know too much about tennis not to have realized long ago that she could not consistently beat bigger, stronger opponents by bludgeoning away from the baseline. But knowing the right path, and having the means or time to follow it, are separate issues.

Hingis's serve is not good enough to rule in the modern game; it gives opponents too many opportunities, too much reassurance. And it's not just a question of Hingis's modest height of 5 feet 7 inches. If Justine Henin, the Belgian who is shorter than Hingis, can generate pace and depth with her arm speed and wrist snap, why not her?

There were signs of improvement against Seles: aces and service winners under pressure and, above all, a second serve with enough variety and depth to keep Seles -- one of the game's better returners -- from swinging away effectively. Hingis won 59 percent of the points when she had to hit a second serve on Thursday. If she can do that against Capriati, who is a great deal fitter than Seles, she will help her cause considerably in her sixth straight Australian Open final. Long term, she will help her cause by getting to the net more often.

Hingis, despite our familiarity with her, is still just 21; she has the time -- and the technique -- to effect real, lasting changes. She is, after all, the finest women's doubles player in the world. So she must ask herself: why aren't I chipping and charging off some second serves? And why aren't I turning more short balls into approach shots? At its highest level, tennis is a head game, and there have been quite a few nagging voices within Hingis during the three years since she won her last Grand Slam singles title at the 1999 Australian Open.

''You always have people who come back and want to prove themselves,'' she said. ''You had Andre Agassi, you know, who made it in the past but then had a few years off and then came back and won Grand Slams again. So, hopefully, I can do it as well.''

Capriati did it, too, although she never reached the top the first time. And while it would have been perfectly understandable if she had run out of gas in Melbourne after her 2001 joy ride, instead she has fought through imperfect form and health to succeed. In the last five Grand Slam events, she has advanced to at least the semifinals, a streak that no one in the women's or men's game can match. She has done it despite a wayward service toss that should give every club player hope, a habit of hitting through the ball with abandon on crucial points, having to scramble into the corners on every surface, catching her breath and hustling again during the next exchange.

She is not a much better tennis player than some women she is now beating regularly. She is not better than Hingis, but she is full of belief, full of energy and full of desire to continue making up for lost opportunities. ''I know Martina wants it bad,'' Capriati said on Thursday. ''But I want it bad, too.''

May 9th, 2002, 07:42 PM
Capriati Rallies to Retain Her Title
New York Times Jan 26, 2002; Christopher Clarey;

Dateline: MELBOURNE, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 26

It was a final between two champions; a final played against the elements. Jennifer Capriati won both tussles today, requiring only one match point to finish off what Martina Hingis failed to do with four of her own.

As a result, Capriati defended her title at the Australian Open on a steamier-than-usual summer afternoon with a 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 victory. The official temperature on the court flirted with 100 degrees, but thermometers placed in other parts of the arena read as high as 116. Whatever the true number, it was as if nature had switched on a blow dryer.

''I don't know how I won; I really don't know,'' Capriati said. ''I just kept fighting.''

That was certainly one of the primary reasons, along with Hingis's inability to play her most aggressive and effective tennis when she needed it most. Perhaps it was a residue of all the blows Hingis's self-belief has absorbed in the last three years, when she stopped winning Grand Slam singles titles and dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the ranking.

''Today, I think I'm overwhelmed with feelings,'' a teary Hingis said in her post-match remarks to the crowd.

The No. 1-seeded Capriati rallied from a 0-4 deficit in the second set, saving four match points in the process. Down the stretch in the third set, Hingis was unable to keep her legs and her versatile game moving in the right direction in the extreme heat. Trailing by 2-3, she received treatment on the changeover for cramps and heat exhaustion. In the next game, she lost her serve after being called for a double fault after consecutive foot faults, a first in her long career. Two games later, Capriati closed out her comeback with a crosscourt forehand return winner off a wide second serve. But then, hasn't she become a specialist in comebacks?

''I don't know what's better,'' she said when asked to compare this year's victory to her first Grand Slam title here last year. ''The first one was great, but to come back and win saving match points; I really don't know.''

Capriati, who called today's conditions the most difficult she has ever faced in a match, is 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, and Hingis has still not won a major title since the 1999 Australian Open. A five-time Grand Slam champion, Hingis has lost her last five major finals, including the last two here to Capriati.

''Even though, I've won the last two times, it's going to take a while to get to your status,'' Capriati said to Hingis during the awards ceremony.

Capriati struggled with her timing from the opening game, making three unforced errors and then producing more in her first service game. Hingis trailed, 0-40, on her serve in the fifth game, but Capriati -- not for the last time -- proved unable to capitalize, spraying ground strokes. Hingis was soon out in front by 5-1, but Capriati clawed her way back to 4-5, only to lose her serve in a hurry in the next game.

That disappointment carried over to the second set, as Hingis held her serve, still unimposing, at love. In the next game, with Capriati serving at 15-15, Hingis struck a ground stroke that landed close to the line. Capriati, convinced the ball was out, hit the ball casually back across the net. But the call of out never came, and when Hingis won the point, Capriati lost her temper and launched into an expletive-laced tirade at the chair umpire, Sandra De Jenken of France, demanding that the baseline line judge be replaced.

''I want him out,'' she screamed.

Remarkably, De Jenken did not give Capriati a warning for an audible obscenity (she had her choice of several).

Instead, Capriati and Hingis played on, with Capriati nearly as steamed as Rod Laver Arena. Hingis soon led, 3-0, and Capriati left the court and took a bathroom break, which might just as well have been called a heat break or anger-release break.

Hingis took advantage of the extra time to leave the court herself and sit on a staircase in the shadows. Once play resumed, she won the next game to lead, 4-0. But with a chance to serve for a probably insurmountable 5-0 advantage, Hingis, often fragile in important matches in recent years, lost the game at love on a double fault.

The match would never be the same, as Capriati clawed her way back to 3-4. That was Hingis's cue to take a bathroom break of her own and Capriati's turn to occupy the stairwell, her face buried in a towel and an ice pack around her neck.

Once play resumed, the momentum shifted again as Hingis broke Capriati's serve in the next game to put herself in position to serve for the match at 5-3. At 40-30, she got her first match point, but Capriati boldly saved it with backhand winner crosscourt.

Two points later, another Hingis double fault on game point kept Capriati in the hunt. The next chance for the chase to end came in the 12th game with Capriati serving at 5-6, 30-40 after a double fault of her own. But Hingis missed her second match-point opportunity with a forehand long and another later in the game with a forehand volley that she stretched for and knocked long.

Both players took a seat in linesmen's chairs after that enervating exchange, and Capriati soon held serve to force a tie breaker, in which Hingis's last chance to win in straight sets came with her leading by 7-6. But the next baseline rally went to Capriati after Hingis made an unforced backhand error. Two points later, after another backhand error, Capriati was shaking both fists and Hingis was looking, if possible, even wearier, as they headed to the locker room for the 10-minute heat break before the final set.

May 9th, 2002, 07:53 PM
Other notes on the final:

Jen told the cameras to back off when they were getting close for that "special" shot of hingis winning on the match points!:)

She spotted a TV cameraman moving onto the court during one of the match points against her and it annoyed her. Later, Capriati was sitting in the players' lounge with some American reporters and she took note of that moment.

"That's sort of ironic," Capriati said. "I hate it when they do that. Maybe that did help. Like, 'Yeah, it is not over yet.'"

Hingis could not convert on the four match points and it went into a third set. No female player had survived four match points in a Grand Slam final, and Capriati and Hingis headed into the dressing room for a 10-minute break because of the heat.

It was as though they were boxers in a championship fight going back to their corners between rounds.

"It was really like that," Capriati said. "Martina's not too far away and they're doing the same thing to her. We were both in the training room."

Even on the court, they needed to sit. Hingis leaned against the scoreboard and Capriati took a chair at the back of the court. "I would look up and she would be gone," Capriati said. "Where'd she go?"

Capriati said she is a boxing fan.

"I like the special matches," she said. "Whenever [Mike] Tyson is boxing too, you know it's going to be kind of interesting. But it doesn't mean I like to fight."

Three Grand Slam singles titles suggest a fighting spirit, though. Let's just say her fighting skills are of the forehand and backhand variety.

May 9th, 2002, 08:00 PM
A red hottie
Sports Illustrated; New York; Feb 4, 2002; L Jon Wertheim;

While others were doing a fast fade, indomitable Jennifer Capriati took the heat at the Australian Open and refused to wilt

A PLATE from Wimbledon. A cup from the U.S. Open. Three cups from the Australian Open. Martina Hingis's quintet of Grand Slam singles trophies-all acquired in a two-year window-have been accumulating dust for three years. Their owner is an exquisite player, but lately she has had no response to the power of bigger, stronger opponents. Her confidence, once plated in armor, has been fissuring. The conventional wisdom has been that at the wizened age of 21, Hingis was finished as a Grand Slam threat.

Yet last Saturday in Melbourne, Hingis looked ready to add another piece of silver to her collection. In the final of the Australian Open she had a 6-4, 4-0 lead over a sluggish Jennifer Capriati. Moments later Hingis held a match point. The pooh-bahs at courtside straightened their ties for the trophy presentation ceremony, and a television camera was wheeled onto the court, ready to capture Hingis's rapture.

Not so fast Capriati saw the camera out of the corner of her eye and demanded that it be pushed back into a courtside tunnel. Then she bludgeoned a backhand winner to stay in the match. Over the next 25 minutes Capriati faced three more match points. Each time she swung away with devil-may-care abandon, while Hingis's shots, laced with hesitation, fluttered passively. "Even though the score showed I was far behind," Capriati recalled, "I felt I was right there in the match."

In conditions resembling a kiln-on-court temperatures reached nearly 120 deg -Capriati won the second set in a tiebreaker. During a 10-minute heat timeout between sets, both players lay in the same air-conditioned training room, too exhausted to speak, draped with ice packs and drinking replenishing fluids. In the third set Hingis was physically spent and psychologically wrecked by her staggering inability to close out the match. "My head was all over the place," she conceded. Capriati, meanwhile, said she had "something left in reserve," the payoff for all those wind sprints and Tae Bo sessions she has endured in the past year and the recently added kick-boxing. After coasting to a 5-2 lead, Capriati punctuated one of the most stunning comebacks in a Grand Slam final by belting a forehand service return winner for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory.

A year after Capriati won the first major of her tortuous career and established herself as a Comeback Kid for all time, her unlikely narrative continues. Too fatigued to replicate her victory dance of a year ago, she simply raised her arms in triumph, betraying more relief than joy. However, as in 2001, soon after leaving the court she phoned her brother, Steven, a student at Arizona. Steven offered perhaps the highest praise a brother can give a sister. "He just said I have more of a certain something than he does," Jennifer recalled, laughing.

Capriati's astounding mettle-or, to be less charitable, Hingis's astounding choke-salvaged an otherwise grim event. Unofficially sponsored by Bengay and Ace bandages, the 2002 Australian Open should have come with a surgeon general's warning. Before the first point was played, Andre Agassi (right wrist injury), Serena Williams (right ankle sprain) and Lindsay Davenport (knee surgery) were out of the draw. Beset by tendinitis in her left knee, Venus Williams was nearly immobile in the early rounds and fell to Monica Seles in the quarter-- finals. Recovering from chicken pox, top men's seed Lleyton Hewitt got bounced in Round 1. Same for the slumping second seed, Gustavo Kuerten, hampered by back and hip pain.

The rash of injuries was particularly troubling given that in 2001 both tours had reconfigured their schedules to extend the off-season. The diagnoses varied. Organizers considered the injury bug a fluke, "a one-off," as tournament director Paul McNamee put it. Some implicated the rubberized Rebound Ace surface, which gets sticky in heat (When American Andy Roddick reached for a ball during his second-- round match, his shoe stuck to the court like an insect on flypaper, and he turned his right ankle, forcing him to retire.) Others cited the schedule change. "Maybe it wasn't a long enough break," suggested Capriati. "Or maybe it was too long, and everybody got out of shape."

Capriati never summoned her best tennis, which made her title all the more impressive. Nursing a hip injury, she advanced by dint of competitive resolve. "Getting into those kinds of battles, I live for that," she said after needing a second-set tiebreaker to beat Italy's Rita Grande in the fourth round. "That's what I love about tennis."

When she steps onto the court, Capriati contracts a case of what Aussies call "white-line fever," sublimating her usual affable personality and turning into a fire-breathing dragon. When successive calls went against her in the final, she appealed to the chair umpire to remove the offending linesman, bellowing, "Then call the f ------ referee." Says Capriati's father and coach, Stefano, "The way Jennifer plays, she says, This court is mine."

In the past Capriati had been galvanized by a desire to show the world that no, that girl with the raccoon eyes in the mug shot isn't me. Now her motivation comes from wanting to prove that 2001, and her two majors, were no aberration. The phenomenon of the Williams sisters might be tennis's driving force, but those who dismiss Capriati as a one-off forget she has more of a certain something than any other player on tour. That would be heart, of course.

May 10th, 2002, 01:25 PM
WOW. Thanx a lot Rollo! :wavey: You posted so much :eek: :eek: :eek: