View Full Version : To much pressure for Capriati?

Sep 5th, 2002, 09:01 PM

A decade ago, Jennifer Capriati was the beloved wonder teen, billed as the wholesome tour sweetheart, projected as the next Chris Evert, expected to be adorable from every camera angle.

Under the pressure, she became sullen, irritable and dropped out of sight.

A year ago, Capriati was an embraceable figure, a woman who had emerged from the darkness, gifted with a sense of herself, predicted to be a major threat to the Williams sisters.

Feeling the burden, she has become agitated, moody and confrontational.


For the second time in her life, Capriati is being asked to create a fairy tale. Once again, Capriati is desperate not to let anyone down. Those close to her say privately that she is trying too hard to please, wanting too much to fulfill expectations, hoping to be everything to everyone.

This responsibility was visible at Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday. With a chance to serve for the match against 10th-seeded Amélie Mauresmo and take her appointed spot in the United States Open semifinals, Capriati could not cope and lost, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

"I felt tight throughout the whole match," the third-seeded Capriati said, later explaining, "I think getting tight is basically saying you choked."

Basically, one double fault and two unforced errors later, Capriati found herself in a tie breaker she did not win and two third-set serves she could not hold in a dispiriting outcome.

"I guess everybody's going to get an all-Williams final now," Denise Capriati, Jennifer's mother, said off-handedly. It was not intended, but she put a voice to the kind of burden her daughter is under, whether external or self-induced. Whatever the culprit, Capriati has the feeling that she is the one who is
supposed to break up the pattern of all-Williams majors.


The pattern is a little closer to happening for the fourth time in five majors. Last night, Venus Williams advanced to meet Mauresmo in the semifinals after she cleaned up her forehand, brushed up her serve and methodically ended the run of the sentimental favorite, Monica Seles, 6-2, 6-3. Venus's sister Serena had taken her place in the semifinals a day earlier and will face Lindsay Davenport.

"You come into a tournament wanting to win," Seles said. "I faced a player who was better in every department."


Capriati has faith that she can contend with the Williams sisters, especially after all the work she has put in in the last few weeks. In the spring, her fitness dropped off. But yesterday, she seemed physically ready to handle Mauresmo.

Mentally, the confidence was not there. She allowed pressure to creep into her head as the match unfolded. Suddenly, her destiny as a semifinalist with a chance to take on Venus was over.

"There's a difference between wanting to and then expecting yourself to and thinking that you should be up there," Capriati said. "Of course, a lot of other people think I should be up there. It's something that I haven't really felt in a while, and maybe I've been feeling it more lately."

It has been a decade since so much was expected of Capriati. This year, the cycle began again. After winning three majors since the 2001 Australian Open, Capriati's trend of bowing out of majors before the finals has her wondering what's going on.

"Sometimes, the opponent is going to play well also, and it's like, even if that happens, I should win," said Capriati, who committed 51 unforced errors. "I don't know. It's just a lot of stuff going on, maybe."

Same stuff as in the past. Instead of thinking about the titles and the accolades and the fans who have never left her side, Capriati has plunged into a familiar funk.

"I mean, human beings are the only ones that go over and over and do the same mistakes over and over," Capriati said. "We never learn. It's still a different kind of pressure; that's something I have to go back and figure out."

Her desire to probe is a positive sign. This time, Capriati wants to think her problems through, not run from them.

Psychology aside, Capriati also lost to a player who confounds her on the court with a cocktail of slice and topspin. Mauresmo may stay on the baseline or race to the net. In need of rhythm, Capriati has not found one against Mauresmo recently. In three months, Capriati has lost to Mauresmo three times.

"I know she doesn't like to play against me," Mauresmo said. "Maybe she gets a little bit tight when she has to play against me. I've beaten her a few times. As I just said, my game is a little bit different from the other players on the Tour. Maybe she's not used to that so much."

Capriati was not comfortable with the pace on Mauresmo's shots, or her pace between points. Often, Mauresmo refused to be pulled into Capriati's hurry-up style. She took her time in the changeovers and held up her hand to slow down Capriati between serves. Capriati had no comment on Mauresmo's tactics, but Stefano Capriati, Jennifer's father, was less diplomatic.

"When you're ready to serve, the receiver has to be ready," he said. "She was disturbing Jennifer. You saw that."

Mauresmo's strategy did not cause Capriati to flub her opportunities. In the third game of the third set, Capriati made a dazzling save of a break point. She scurried to a drop shot to flick a ball up the line, then raced back to retrieve a lob as it licked the baseline. Capriati lunged to get an overhead by Mauresmo, driving a forehand at her knees. Mauresmo could not handle the heat, plopping a volley into the net.

Drenched from the humidity, panting from the laborious point, Capriati shook a defiant fist as she absorbed a roar from the crowd. But two deuce points later, she botched her momentum with a double fault. As a dubious follow-up, Capriati responded to the next break point against her with a forehand stab at a crosscourt shot by Mauresmo that went wide.

Undone by that game, Capriati never recovered her composure enough for a comeback. She had one last chance to extend the day at the end, but she could not find the critical point to make Mauresmo serve out the match. After fighting off four match points with a series of miracle shots, Capriati's keen survival skills gave out on her with a tight forehand that sailed long.

"It's very frustrating because you try to do everything you can to just kind of relax out there," Capriati said. "I think it's probably just a lot of expectations and pressure that I put on myself."

In a way, it's like 1992 again. But at 26, she may be better equipped to solve the pressure behind her need to please.
A new coach and renewed dedication might bring a resurgent Cappy back to her old game by Oz 2003.

Sep 5th, 2002, 10:03 PM
I agree with yu teerex (dont worry i will throw myself off the nearest bridge cos i am just as shocked as yu).

Hingis for so long was the one at the top of the world but the difference was is that she was being chased by 4 or 5 players. Yu could see that Hingis was feeling the pressure of trying to hold off the power players, but it obviously failed. At the same time but less noticed was Lindsay. She was a power player trying to get the no.1 spot and also holding off the likes of Williams and capriati, but between the 2 of them Lindsay and Martina did fairly well holding them off. Then Venus makes a break through and wins 2 GS back to back in the same year. The year later Capriati makes a break though and wins 2 GS back-to-back and then Venus wins 2 again, where's lindsay and martina??. Well they couldnt cope with the pressure and along with some injuries fell from the top spot. This year Serena steps up her game and wins 2 GS back to back and looks likely to add a 3rd, where is everybody else?, Venus, Hingis , Capriati (not lindsay cos she was injured a lot). All 3 have been beaten fairly easy by Miss S. Williams.

Capriati however, through the times of Hingis and Lindsay's Injuries had to cope with the load of beating 2 good players on her own, the mighty Williams sisters. She convinced herself and everybody else she could do it, but what we found was a woman who put way to much pressure on her shoulders and ultimatley failed.

I would say it is fairly obvious at the moment (even though it pains me to say it), None of the other girls in the top 10 can bare the load of the williams sisters alone. So the only way for the domination to end is if all the girls gang up and beat the shit out of venus and serena, only joking :-), the only way they can do it is if the media stops putting pressure on 1 person, they should all try and beat them, and venus at the minute could also do with some help to stop little sis.

Hingis felt the pressure, Capriati felt the pressure, Lindsay probably felt the pressure (but never said), and i would say Venus is feeling a little bit of pressure to at least beat serena once in a GS final if they meet at the Open.

Sep 5th, 2002, 10:08 PM
:eek: :eek: @Denise Capriat's comment!!!

Sep 5th, 2002, 10:23 PM
I agree with the article, and I also agree with Bezza's comments, except I think you let Davenport off the hook too easily. The injury bug has cost Lindsay to miss 3 Slams, and Hingis 2. Serena has been very dominant this year, while both of them were injured, not just Lindsay. Before you jump all over me, I am in no way devaluing Serena's accomplishments, she has been dominant and it doesn't matter if people were injured or not. There is no way of knowing if they at their best would of been able to beat Serena, and I highly doubt they would have because this has been Serena's year. Give it time though, no one's dominance lasts forever, and there are too many talented players out there for me to think that Serena will keep a stranglehold on winning forever.

As for Capriati, I think she was fine in her comeback until she hit some bumps in the road, and stopped winning. She doesn't like the media to begin with, and the more people keep on pressuring her to win the tighter I think she will get.

Sep 5th, 2002, 11:15 PM
She needs to take some tips from Venus...her emotions gets the best of her each time. She lost her temper in her last match to MoMo and lost control...and lost a winnable match.

It's time to find a mantra..something to chant when things get rough out there!Ommmm...Ommmmm

Sep 5th, 2002, 11:17 PM
Capriati seems to have demon seeds from her breakdown as a teenager that have hatched in her adult psyche and she seems to be unable to fight them off most of the time.

Cap battles the opponet, herself and slings and arrows from her own imagination.

The parallel between the WILLIAMS and Tiger Woods and how their opponets concentrate so much on them that they totally forhet their own games.

The opponets of the WILLIAMS are playing not to lose and VENUS & SERENA are playing to win.
A critical difference.

Sep 5th, 2002, 11:29 PM
I love you Tee you speak so much sense!

Sep 5th, 2002, 11:35 PM
Thank you, American.
Someone did say that I was a legend. LOL :)

Sep 5th, 2002, 11:37 PM
The problem with Jen is that she is too stressed out over people's expectations. She should of never lost that match to Amelie. She was serving for the set. If her and Denise and the rest of her crew would stop worrying about dethroning the Williams then maybe her results will be better.

Also, Serena's domination of the tour this year is amazing. She was willing and ready to put the work in, and she got the results. If anyone are to stop her and Venus they need to take it to them like Richard said. This is easier said than done, but if you want a chance against them you have to do this. However with the way Serena is playing right now I don't think too many can stop her. But everyone's beatable, you just have to figure out a way.

Sep 6th, 2002, 12:12 AM
Originally posted by TeeRexx
Capriati seems to have demon seeds from her breakdown as a teenager that have hatched in her adult psyche and she seems to be unable to fight them off most of the time.

Cap battles the opponet, herself and slings and arrows from her own imagination.

The parallel between the WILLIAMS and Tiger Woods and how their opponets concentrate so much on them that they totally forhet their own games.

The opponets of the WILLIAMS are playing not to lose and VENUS & SERENA are playing to win.
A critical difference.

I usually hate the way you speak about Jennifer, but I agree with what you're saying right now.

Sep 6th, 2002, 12:22 AM
Let's be fair to Jen coz there was loads of pressure on her and the Willi's coz they are expected to win the tournament. She was thinking so much about playing Venus that she forgot that Momo was in the way. Pff about Momo taking too much time coz there are *loads* of other players who take *much* longer.

Sep 6th, 2002, 12:35 AM
The fault of Jennifer's 2002 medicore season is Jennifer.

She wasn't really setting the AO on fire this year, neither was Venus, mainly because of recurring tendenitus and Serena was off the tour for six weeks because of an ankle injury. Truth be told, Martina was the best player at the AO until she met Jennifer in the finals and wilted like she did at the 2001 AO final and handed Jennifer the victory. But instead of staying on the tour in January and February like most of the top ten players on the tour, shd decided to go home and do whatever and in that time, Venus became number one, Jelena and Monica moved up in the rankings and Serena came bcak from her injury to beat her in the finals at Scottsdale. March-early June wasn't better for her either. She should have won the Nasdaq 100 final, but let Serena back into the match and ultimately win . She was suppsoed to defend her title at the FCC, where Serena was knocked out in the quarterfinals, but she was knocked out in the semifinals by Patty Schnyder. She had chanced to win at the GO and the IO, but lost in the semifinals to Justine and Serena respectively and then lost to Serena at the semifinals at the FO, where she was up a set and in a good position to win the match.

You would have thought she would have used the time off to work on what went wrong during the clay court season so that she would have a chance at the Wimbeldon crown, but she was blinsided by a better prepared (and better serving) Amelie Mauresmo. You then would have thought that she would have used the time after Wimbeldon to work on her game so that she would be ready for the North American hardcourt season, but again, she was shocked in San Diego by Jelena Dokic and in LA by Ai Sugiyana (?). With Serena out of the CO with an injury, surely she could have dominated and won the championship, but she ran into Amelie again and Amelie ran away with the championship.

At the US Open, she had the best chance at getting to the semifinals and possibly upsetting Venus, but she couldn't get by Amelie again and I think the real reason that her 2002 has gone downhill is because she let the Williams sisters get into her head, particulary Serena. If anyone could remember her famous words after she beat Serena at Wimbeldon, I think she really thought that she was so much better than Serena and that Serena couldn't get any better. Well, Serena did and she didn't and we are now seeing the result.

The rest of her 2002 doesn' t look very promising either. She may have to face Venus in Moscow, Serena in Fieldstat (sorry for any misspelling) and Zurich and both of them at the year-end championships. Hopefully, she won't be so full of herself and put a lot of pressure on herself in 2003 so she can try to win the AO again, but if Serena, Venus and Lindsay are healthy, who knows what will happen?

Sep 6th, 2002, 05:57 AM
M2k - Maybe now you will learn to hate a little bit less. :)

Sep 6th, 2002, 10:01 AM
Originally posted by TeeRexx
Capriati seems to have demon seeds from her breakdown as a teenager that have hatched in her adult psyche and she seems to be unable to fight them off most of the time.

Cap battles the opponet, herself and slings and arrows from her own imagination.
Someone please wake me up, I'm having a terrible nightmare that I actually agree with something that Tee said! :eek: I do have to point out that "opponents" has an "n" in it, tho'. :p

The parallel between the WILLIAMS and Tiger Woods and how their opponets concentrate so much on them that they totally forhet their own games.
Ah, finally awake again. The parallel....what? Exists? Can be drawn? (Incomplete sentances make me crazy!)
The opponets of the WILLIAMS are playing not to lose and VENUS & SERENA are playing to win.
A critical difference.
This part I disagree with completely. I don't think that the sisters are the only players on the tour playing to win. I think that, for the most part, they all step on the court believing that they can win...even if being realistic and admitting that beating a top player is a difficult task.

...Whew! That's better, I thought I'd lost my mind for a second there.

Sep 6th, 2002, 11:26 AM
WILLIAMS opponets are now just rying to play well and look good in losing and do not fully believe that they can win whereas VENUS and SERENA are completely confident in themselves, just as they have been from the beginning of their careers.

Capriati is losing confidence at a more rapid pace with every loss and she she contain this situation before she reaches a second career burnout.

Sep 6th, 2002, 11:38 AM
opponeNts all ready...sheesh! :rolleyes:

Pffft. The last post was much less coherent than the other. And in a word: silly. No way Venus could possibly be all that confident considering how close Chanda came to sending her home and how Serena seems to have her number now. She may talk a good game, but I'm not buying it. And where does that confidence go if they get to the final and Serena hoists another one?

Boy oh boy, I just remembered who I'm dealing with. Momentary lapse that won't happen again soon.

Sep 6th, 2002, 11:43 AM
EC - Coherency is not a strong point of your, I guess.

Damn, VENUS lacks confidence, but is making it to all the slam finals and only has to contend with one player most of the time.
We are playing tennis, not horseshoes or handgrenades.
Chanda was sent packing.

the cat
Sep 6th, 2002, 11:44 AM
EC can spell! But tho' is really spelled though! ;)

Capriati should be having the time of her life the last 20 months! :bounce: But the pressure is getting to her! :eek: The spector of the Williams sisters just overwhelms Jennifer!

And I bet EC will be very nervous today about Amelie playing Venus. Rememeber, it's been Mauresmo who has been running her mouth saying that people don't want to see another all Williams final. How does she know what people want? Well, Mauresmo hets her chance today to stop another all Williams final. Make the most of your opprtunity, Amelie.

Sep 6th, 2002, 12:02 PM
Cat, while I rather like Amelie, my life doesn't hang in the balance of how she performs against Venus. ;) I hope to see a good match, an upset would be fun, but I'm not going to get nervous about it. LOL.

As far as what Amelie had to say, I don't call that "running her mouth off" - I call it being honest. She also clarified that she couldn't really know what the public wants. But frankly, from what I've been hearing (I was there Saturday and Monday), she's right. Outside of the staunch Williams fanbase, most people are hoping for at least one of the sisters to be upset, so that there'd be a different final. Go figure, eh?