2002 DOMESTIC TELEVISION SCHEDULE
Early Rounds - ESPN2
Date Day Time (ET) Comments
August 21 Wednesday 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Tape Delay
August 22 Thursday 1:00 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Tape Delay
August 22 Thursday 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Live (Quarterfinal)
August 23 Friday 1:00 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Tape Delay (Quarterfinal)
August 23 Friday 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Live (Semifinal #1)
August 23 Friday 7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Live (Semifinal #2)
Finals Coverage - CBS
Date Day Time (ET) Comments
August 24 Saturday 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Live (Finals)
Women's Look Forward: Week of August 18
Women's Look Forward: New Haven
BOB Larson's Tennis News
You can learn a lot about players' habits just by looking at the New Haven draw.
Top players tend not to want to play too many warmups to a Slam; they don't want to arrive tired. Mid-ranked players, who don't anticipate winning so many matches that fatigue becomes a factor, want to be sure to get in some practice.
New Haven does a fine job of satisfying both. It's only a 28-draw, meaning that top players don't have to play too many matches to win -- but it features six qualifiers instead of the usual four, giving many more players the chance to at least play qualifying. The WTA says that New Haven is rivalled only by Filderstadt and San Diego in the strength of its qualifying field (which this year is headed by Elena Likhovtseva). This doesn't quite extend to the main draw -- the fact that only 22 players get direct entry makes the qualifying stronger than it should be relative to the main draw. But it's still a fairly impressive bunch. Consider: When is the last time Martina Hingis played a 28-draw event and didn't get a bye? (The answer is 1996, though of course this is mostly the WTA's injury rules in action; Hingis is actually the fourth-highest-ranked player present, behind Venus Williams, Jelena Dokic, and Justine Henin, but ends up with the #5 seed because Lindsay Davenport has a protected ranking and Hingis doesn't.)
Hingis may yet get promoted, given that Jelena Dokic on Saturday finally suffered the injury she's been courting assiduously all year. And she'd probably like that, since Dokic's quarter is weaker than her own. But hardly weak. There isn't a bad match in this draw, at least among those who got direct entry. Not when world #14 Silvia Farina Elia is unseeded!
The analysis below is based on the initial draw, with Dokic still scheduled to play.
With four seeds getting byes, and six qualifiers, there are only six first round matches involving two "name" players. All are quite good:
Tanasugarn vs. Shaughnessy. Both were ranked higher earlier this year than now. Shaughnessy has fallen lower -- but she was ranked higher when she started. Can she ever rediscover her form?
Farina Elia vs. Majoli. A very consistent player with no big weapons versus a very streaky player with better weapons. Hardcourt doesn't suit either particularly, though Farina is probably the more balanced player. This could go either way.
(5) Hingis vs. Smashnova. Two of the steadiest players on the Tour. Hingis has the better weapons. Will she have the patience to deal with Smashnova?
Myskina vs. Martinez. Myskina has been moving up steadily in the rankings, though she's going to have to raise things a level to move higher still. Martinez is in a pretty bad funk. But Myskina plays a very basic game. Can Martinez throw her enough changeups to bother her?
(6) Mauresmo vs. Panova. Mauresmo can blow Panova off the court if she's on. But Mauresmo doesn't like hardcourts at all -- she's the only player on the Tour to avoid Miami, for instance. Can Panova do something with that advantage?
Tulyaganova vs. Sanchez-Vicario. Both are slumping. Tulyaganova doesn't like hardcourts much, and she's ranked lower. Which one will break out?
In the second round, the fireworks really start:
(1) Venus Williams vs. Tanasugarn or Shaughnessy. Well, don't expect much out of this one.
Bedanova vs. (8) Dementieva. Two young talents. Two very inconsistent players. Bedanova beat Dementieva at the 2001 Australian Open -- and if anything, she's gotten better since, while Dementieva has signally failed to improve.
(3) Dokic vs. Schnyder. We'll see if this comes off. It's power vs. variety. A lot will depend on Schnyder's state of mind.
Majoli or Farina Elia vs. (7) Hantuchova. Majoli has the shots to beat Hantuchova on a good day. Farina Elia has the steadiness to let Hantuchova beat herself on a bad day. It should be a good match.
(5) Hingis vs. Stevenson. The two played a very tight set at Miami before Stevenson fell apart. That may have planted seeds of doubt in Stevenson; she's not been the same since. But neither has Hingis, who played only one more tournament before her injury. Hingis is healthy but not match-tough. Stevenson has only recently started winning again. Who is more out of form? Stay tuned.
Myskina or Martinez vs. (4) Henin. Myskina can outhit Henin. Martinez rivals the Belgian in touch. The points may be long, but they could be interesting.
(6) Mauresmo vs. Raymond. The surface is too fast for Mauresmo, too slow for Raymond. Who does that help?
Tulyaganova or Sanchez-Vicario vs. (2) Davenport. Who can find form the soonest? Davenport is, other than Venus Williams, the best hardcourt player in the draw. But it is only her fourth event back.
The Rankings. Since this is written before Montreal concludes, what follows is more tentative than usual. But some things are clear. To begin with, Serena Williams remains #1. Venus Williams is the New Haven defending champion, and with the draw somewhat weaker this year than last, she can only lose points. Nonetheless, Venus is secure at #2 -- all the more so since Jennifer Capriati isn't playing this year. Capriati, even though she won't be defending her semifinalist points, is secure at #3. Below that, things start to get interesting. The next three players in the rankings are Dokic (who may play), Seles (who won't), and Clijsters (who won't). Justine Henin is, by our calculation, 334 points behind Dokic. So if she can win here (highly unlikely, given that this is probably her worst surface), she would certainly pass Seles and Clijsters and might even threaten Dokic.
Hingis, at #8, has nothing to defend, and so has an outside shot at passing Henin or Clijsters. She probably won't fall, considering that Lindsay Davenport is the defending finalist and Mauresmo is has quarterfinalist points.
Daniela Hantuchova has an outside shot to enter the Top Ten.
Only five of the players from #11 to #20 are playing: Hantuchova, Dementieva, Farina Elia, Myskina, and Smashnova. Most of these players have many more than 17 tournaments; it's hard for them to move up the rankings unless they have very big results. The only one with much on the line is Myskina (85 points). So we may see almost no movement among players in the #11-#20 range.
Aug 18th, 2002, 04:47 PM
News Haven Register
By Sean O'Rourke
Venus Williams has never lost a match at the Pilot Pen. Here's a look at the 12-match winning streak:
1999: Williams (2) defeated Maria Sanchez-Lorenzo, 6-1, 6-1, second round
def. Magui Serna, 6-0, 6-4, quarterfinal
def. Monica Seles (3), 6-1, 6-2, semifinal
def. Lindsay Davenport (1), 6-2, 7-5, final
2000: Williams (1) def. Elena Likhovtseva, 6-3, 7-5, second round
def. Patty Schynder, 6-4, 6-2, quarterfinal
def. Amanda Coetzer (5), 6-3, 6-4, semifinal
def. Seles (2), 6-2, 6-4, final
2001: Williams (3) def. Sandrine Testud, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, second round
def. Justine Henin, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2
def. Jennifer Capriati (2), 6-4, 7-6 (7-1)
def. Davenport (2), 7-6 (8-6), 6-4
Here's a look at the the products endorsed by Venus and Serena Williams:
Wilson tennis rackets
Doublement Gum by Wrigley
Wilson's leather (the Venus Williams fashion line)
Wilson tennis rackets
Doublemint Gum by Wrigley
Here's a look at the accomplishments of Venus and Serena Williams:
--Currently ranked second in the world
--Has won four Grand Slams, the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Open and 2001 and 2001 Wimbledon
--Has won 27 WTA Tour titles
--Has won three straight Pilot Pen titles
--Olympic gold medalist in 2000 summer games at Sydney, Australia
--Has six singles titles this season at Antwerp, Amelia Island, Gold Coast, Paris Indoors, Stanford and San Diego
--Enters the Pilot Pen riding a eight-match winning streak
--Was ranked No. 1 from Feb. 25-march 17, April 22-May 19 and June 10-July 7
--Currently ranked No. 1 in the world
--Has won back-to-back Grand Slams at the French Open and Wimbledon this year
--Also won the U.S. Open in 1999
--Took over the No. 1 ranking from her sister for the first time in her career on July 14
--Has won 16 WTA Tour titles
--Has won five titles this season at the French Open, Wimbledon, Miami, Scottsdale and Italian Open
Aug 18th, 2002, 04:53 PM
Pilot Pen finds success in New Haven
Aug. 17, 2002. 07:15 PM
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Dominated by Venus Williams the past three years, the Pilot Pen gets under way Sunday offering players one last chance to get match-ready for the U.S. Open.
Williams, the top seed and No. 2 player in the world, has not lost a set in New Haven. She is the only woman with three consecutive titles in the history of the tournament, which began in 1948 and was formerly known as the U.S. Hardcore Championships.
The tournament has grown in popularity with players and spectators in its five years in New Haven. The hardcourt surface at the Connecticut Tennis Center is similar to that of the U.S. Open, allowing players to gauge their timing and speed of the ball. Many of the marquee matchups are played at night under the lights of the 13,500-seat stadium court.
"Normally, players don't want to play at night, but what helps us now is that the U.S. Open final match is at night," said tournament director Anne Worcester..
The cutoff this year for the main draw stopped at the No. 23 player in the world. All others had to hope for a wild card, a withdrawal or battle on the court for one of six qualifying spots.
Spectator attendance has grown from 40,000 in 1998 to 92,000 last year, making it the best-attended women-only tennis event in the world.
Subtle changes are apparent following Sept. 11. Enhanced security is evident with bag checks and heightened police presence.
Title sponsor Pilot Pen has extended its contract through 2008, a deal made a few weeks before the terrorist attacks. Despite the nation's economic slump following the attacks, Ron Shaw, company president and chief executive officer, did not retreat from his commitment.
"It never entered my mind to try and find an excuse to run away after what happened last September," Shaw said. "The president asked us all to get life back to normal as fast as we can. It's not just a cold, calculated business decision to sponsor this thing. It's a happy kind of event to bring to the world, to the state, to this country.''
Williams headlines a 28-player field that includes 18 of the top 25 in the world. She'll play no earlier than Tuesday because the top four seeds all have first-round byes and will take on the winner of Tamarine Tanasugarn and Meghann Shaugnessy.
The doubles competition features Hall-of-Famer Martina Navratilova, a popular draw in New Haven. Navratilova, 45, retired from singles in 1994, but returned to play doubles in 2000. She is teamed with 20-year-old Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan.
Two former No. 1 players have made the Pilot Pen another stop on their road to recovery. Lindsay Davenport, the 1997 winner of this tournament, missed most of the season because of knee surgery and is seeded No. 2.
Martina Hingis, back after a three-month layoff from ankle surgery, is the fifth-seeded player and drew a first-round match against popular Israeli star Anna Smashnova, a five-time singles champ and No. 19 in the world.
Hingis, ranked No. 8 in the world, made her comeback in Montreal this past week, losing in the quarterfinals Friday to Jelena Dokic. Dokic is scheduled to play at the Pilot Pen and is seeded third, but pulled out of the semifinals in Montreal on Saturday with a hamstring injury.
Smashnova expects a tough match from Hingis, despite the layoff.
"She's obviously a great, great player even though she hasn't played in three months," Smashnova said Saturday.
The two met once before in the fourth round of the French Open in 1998. Hingis, then the top-ranked player in the world, beat No. 72 Smashnova 6-2, 6-1. Much has changed. Hingis is working her way back to top form, while Smashnova is having a career year.
The 26-year-old Smashnova was ranked 87th at the end of last season and opened 2002 on fire, winning her first 10 matches and two straight tournaments. She achieved her highest ranking of No. 16 in July, the highest for any Israeli tennis professional.
A clay court specialist, Smashnova attributes the turnaround to more commitment, less self-pressure and her fitness coach Marco Panichi.
"I'm stronger, I'm faster, I can stay longer on the court with the same intensity," she said. "I'm not going to think about Martina, I'm just going to think about my game. I just have to keep my game going well.''
Aug 18th, 2002, 11:41 PM
Venus Williams  vs. Meghann Shaughnessy
Williams leads 4-1; 3-1 on hardcourts
2000-08-28 U.S. Open Hardcourt R32 Venus Williams (USA) 7-6(3) 6-1
2001-01-15 Australian Open Hardcourt R64 Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 7-6(3)
2001-04-30 Hamburg Clay F Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 6-0
2001-07-23 Stanford Hardcourt QF Meghann Shaughnessy (USA) 2-6 7-5 7-6(4)
2002-07-22 Stanford Hardcourt R16 Venus Williams (USA) 6-4 6-1
Aug 19th, 2002, 03:30 AM
Let's go Miss Venus!! 4Peat PLEASE :)
Venus Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., smiles as she speaks at a news conference at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, Aug. 18, 2002. Williams will defend her title at the Pilot Pen tennis tournament.
Venus: Chase is on
Pursuit of sister's top rank continues at Pilot Pen
News Haven Register
By Sean O'Rourk, Register Staff
NEW HAVEN — Venus Williams' pursuit of the No. 1 ranking in women's tennis continues this week at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.
Williams is chasing younger sister Serena for the distinction. A fourth straight tournament title at the Pilot Pen tournament this week and a third straight championship at the U.S. Open, which begins a week from today, would vault big sister past little sister in the rankings.
The pursuit of her fourth straight Pilot Pen title begins either Tuesday night or Wednesday afternoon against Meghann Shaughnessy, who defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 Sunday afternoon.
Venus Williams met with the media Sunday at the CTC to discuss her goal of returning to No. 1.
"It (being No. 1) is very important," Williams said. "I'm not trying to stay at No. 2 for the rest of my career. I'm hoping the tournament wins will add up and make a difference for me."
Williams moved into the No. 1 ranking on Feb. 25 for the first time in her career. She lasted for four weeks and also had stints from April 22-May 19 and June 10-July 7 before being displaced by her sister.
Serena Williams earned the top ranking after beating Venus in the Wimbledon final. Serena also beat Venus in the French Open final in June.
For most, a year with two Grand Slam final appearances would be considered superb. But Venus dominated last summer as she won at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as winning tournaments at San Diego and the Pilot Pen.
"I feel I've done my personal best this year," Williams said. "I've had some nice highlights. Two (Grand Slam) finals are not bad. I can't be too down on myself about that. This is still a great year, to be second best is not bad. I realize I can't have everything, but I still have to keep working hard."
Williams prepared for the three-week stretch at the Pilot Pen and the U.S. Open by taking the last two weeks off from tournament play. Unless the tournament is a Grand Slam event, Venus does not play when Serena does. Serena played in Los Angeles and was scheduled to play in Montreal last week before withdrawing because of an injury.
The weeks off served as a mental and physical refresher for Venus. She was able to hang out at home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and catch up on her hobbies, although she was careful not to go too long without practicing.
"I try to relax, to do things to take me away from my main focus, which is tennis," Williams said. "I kind of back away from everything. (But) at this time, I can't afford to take a couple of weeks off. I need to work on my consistency.
"I'm only able to play so many tournaments in a row because I usually do well and get to the later rounds. For me the maximum is about two or three tournaments in a row."
The pursuit of No. 1 starts up again this week at the Pilot Pen. But she knows winning for a fourth straight year will be a challenge because of a field that includes Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Jelena Dokic and Justine Henin.
"It's always a good field here," Williams said. "I remember watching (Jana) Novotna (and Steffi Graf) in the final in 1998. Everyone wants to be here. It's a good place to get the last piece of confidence (before the U.S. Open)."
Aug 19th, 2002, 04:13 PM
Pilot Pen Tennis notebook
News Haven Register
By Sean O'Rourke
Playing her idol
Iroda Tulyaganova will get the unique opportunity to play against and with two of her idols this week.
Tulyaganova beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 7-6 (5) 6-3 in a first-round match Sunday, and will play doubles for the first time with Martina Navratilova tonight on Stadium Court against Amelie Mauresmo and Patty Schynder.
Navratilova, of course, is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players in history, while Sanchez-Vicario, a former No. 1 player, is considered a lock for the Hall of Fame.
"(Sanchez-Vicario) was one of my idols growing up, so it was fun to play against her," Tulyaganova said. "But it was a bit tough because now I'm practicing against her at her academy (in Barcelona, Spain) and she recommended my coach (Stefan Ortega) to me.
"I almost wanted to say sorry to her after the match."
Tulyaganova, ranked 41st in the world, wasted no time in telling Navratilova she would compete in the Pilot Pen doubles draw.
"When she asked me to play I was so happy I said yes I right away," Tulyaganova said. "It's a dream come true to play with her. She's a great player. There are a lot of things I can learn from her."
Tulyaganova also gets to play another great when she meets No. 2 seed Lindsay Davenport in the second round, a match to be played either Tuesday or Wednesday.
"I really have nothing to lose against Lindsay," Tulyaganova said.
Mauresmo enters the Pilot Pen riding a high after beating Jennifer Capriati 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Rogers AT&T Cup in Montreal on Sunday. Players competing in the Pilot Pen now have won 28 of the 46 tournaments on the WTA Tour this year.
Mauresmo, the sixth seed in the Pilot Pen, has now won eight WTA singles titles in her career. Mauresmo will open singles play Tuesday against Tatiana Panova.
Venus Williams is the only player currently on tour to have won a tournament three consecutive years. She's accomplished the feat at the Pilot Pen and also at San Diego, which she won three weeks ago by defeating Jelena Dokic in the final.
This week, Williams will try to win for the fourth straight year in New Haven. Williams also enters the tournament with a 12-0 match record at the Pilot Pen.
"It's been nice," Williams said. "There are not many tournaments that I win three times in a row. This could be four."
So does Williams feel any pressure to win her fourth straight tournament at the Pilot Pen?
"I don't feel any pressure," Williams said. "I just want to win the tournament, but I don't feel the pressure, fortunately."
Jennifer Hopkins knew she was going to have her work cut out for her against Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian in the final round of qualifying.
It took three sets, including a tiebreaker, but Hopkins held on and defeated Mikaelian 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the main draw.
Hopkins, who defeated wild-card player Bea Bielik in the first round and Erika De Lone Saturday, enters the main draw as the 69th-seeded player in the world. She is the highest ranked player of the six qualifiers. Hopkins will play 7th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova in the first round.
Also advancing out of the qualifying round Sunday were Elena Bovina, Laura Granville, Jelena Kostanic, Marta Marrero and Angelika Roesch.
Kostanic and Bovina both return to action today on the stadium court. Roesch and Granville will play on the grandstand.
- Sean O'Rourke, Karen Tucker
Aug 19th, 2002, 04:49 PM
Face Of The Tournament: Venus
August 19, 2002
By ROBERTO GONZALEZ, Courant Staff Writer
NEW HAVEN -- Tournament director Anne Worcester called top-seeded Venus Williams "the icon of the Pilot Pen" Sunday, and with good reason. Williams is, after all, the three-time defending champion.
Williams, ranked No. 2 in the world behind her sister Serena, received a bye into the second round and will play Meghann Shaughnessy Tuesday or Wednesday.
Williams is coming off a two-week break after winning in San Diego, and said the Pilot Pen is instrumental in her preparation for the U.S. Open.
"I have had three great years here. It's been nice," said Williams, 22. "I've done so well here, and coming off a tournament win going into a Grand Slam is very wonderful. I come in - even if I'm not exactly playing the best tennis - with confidence and mentally I feel very good, as if I could do anything. So that helps a lot."
Williams is the two time defending U.S. Open champion.
Worcester said Williams is the only player who is a three-time defending champion of an event.
Williams doesn't play more than three tournaments in a row. She said she relaxed and spent some time away from the court. When she began preparing for the Pilot Pen, it was simply a matter of honing her game, she said.
"I just work on my consistency," Williams said. "Hitting the ball with power and precision, and also being consistent at the same time."
When Williams was asked if she missed rival Martina Hingis, who was away from the tour for three months after ankle surgery, she first just smiled.
"When I heard the news [that she was having surgery], I was shocked," Williams said. "But she always bounces back quickly. I wish I could do the same as her."
Williams said she and Serena, who beat her sister in the Wimbledon and French Open finals, never talk about their rankings with each other. But Venus says she wants to return to No. 1.
"It's very important for me to be No. 1," Williams said with a sly smile. "I don't want to be No. 2 the rest of my career."
Aug 19th, 2002, 07:13 PM
:wavey: QueenO, Okasu, Infiniti for articles and pictures,
By DONNA TOMMELLEO
AP Sports Writer
August 20, 2002
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Top-seeded Venus Williams maintained her perfect record in the Pilot Pen with a 6-2, 6-4 second-round victory over Meghann Shaughnessy on Tuesday night.
Williams, the three-time defending champion, has not lost a set in 14 matches here and advanced to play qualifier Laura Granville in the quarterfinals.
Williams, tuning up to defend her U.S. Open title next week, breezed through the first set in under 30 minutes, getting most of her powerful first serves in at over 100 mph and quickly tracking down any returns. She made short work of Shaughnessy's defensive lobs and won the battle at the net with her range.
``I played pretty efficiently tonight,'' Williams said. ``I have to come in in order to play my best tennis. I can reach and get to the balls, but the first step is just getting to the net.''
Shaughnessy won just one point off Williams' serves in the first set. Her returns were often easy set-ups for Williams' crushing winners.
``She came out very aggressive today and made a very high percentage of her first serves, which is difficult because I was on the defensive right from the very beginning on every point,'' Shaughnessy said.
Shaughnessy toughened in the second set with more aggressive net play. She broke Williams in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and had her down 40-0 in the next game. But Williams won five straight points to break Shaughnessy. Williams held serve to take a 5-4 lead then quickly broke Shaughnessy at love to close out the match after giving herself a pep talk.
``I said I'm not going to hit any balls into the net and that I'm not going to hit wide for no reason,'' Williams said.
Earlier Tuesday, second-seeded Lindsay Davenport defeated Iroda Tulyganova 6-4, 7-5 (3) to advance to the quarterfinals.
Davenport countered Tulyganova's powerful serve and forehands with precise winners. It was their first meeting, and Davenport admitted being unprepared for Tulyganova's strong service game. Tulyganova recorded eight aces and several service winners.
``I just had difficulties,'' Davenport said. ``Not many girls serve between 110 and 115 miles per hour. I haven't played somebody that served quite that hard except maybe Venus.
``Fortunately, I felt when we were rallying I was hitting the balls well.''
Granville advanced by beating Daja Bedanova 7-5, 6-2.
In first-round play, No. 6 Amelie Mauresmo beat Tatiana Panova, 6-2, 6-2; Daniela Hantuchova eased to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jennifer Hopkins; Anastasia Myskina ousted Conchita Martinez 6-1, 6-4; and Patty Schnyder defeated Marta Marrero 6-4, 6-1.
The Pilot Pen is Davenport's fourth tournament back from knee surgery that sidelined her for most of the season. She combined her powerful ground strokes with dead-on accuracy, routinely running Tulyaganova from sideline to sideline.
``She was hitting winners from everywhere,'' Tulyaganova said. ``I was getting very nervous.''
But it was Davenport who lost concentration late in the match. Up a break in the second set, she struggled with her serve in the eighth game.
She had two double faults in a row and made a couple of unforced errors, allowing Tulyaganova to break her serve and tie the set at 4-all. Davenport regained her game in time and cruised through the tiebreak 7-3, but said she was again disappointed over the mental lapse.
``It's just been plaguing me for the last few weeks,'' Davenport said. ``I get up and then I play some sloppy points and sloppy games. It obviously makes it more of an interesting match.''
During her comeback, Davenport has advanced to two semifinals and a final. She lost the championship in Los Angeles to Chanda Rubin.
It's Game, Set, Intimidation for the Williams Sisters on Tour
The News York Times
By SELENA ROBERTS
NEW HAVEN, Aug. 20 — Once the draw for the United States Open is unveiled Wednesday, some women will begin hatching mental travel plans by the lay of the brackets.
Their belief in themselves, their visions of winning, extend only until the round that leads them to an encounter with Serena or Venus Williams.
"Sometimes, when the Williams sisters are in the draw, you sort of say, `Well, maybe a semi or a final would be good,' " fourth-ranked Jelena Dokic said today at the Pilot Pen. "Maybe some in the top 10 think they have a chance, but I think a lot of the players maybe get a little bit scared. Serena and Venus have done well. They are No. 1 and No. 2, and they've dominated the Grand Slams."
It's hard to be a climber on the Tour with such a thick glass ceiling, but the imposing Williams sisters have left little room for hope. They have won 7 of the last 11 majors, and have met in the finals for three of the last four. Even at her best in the late 90's, Martina Hingis did not produce such an air of invincibility.
"It's a different game," Dokic said. "With the Williams sisters, it's power. If they're on, it's impossible to beat them. With Martina, you've always had the chance because it wasn't so much power and it was more finesse.
"You have to see how it goes. You have to hope the sisters have a bad day right now."
Pro athletes are rarely this candid about their resignation. But the Williams sisters have put a magnifier on many players' insecurities since they began dominating the Tour this year.
Those who have the most confidence in themselves are the players with a history of pulling off a victory against Serena and Venus. Lindsay Davenport cannot even comprehend chalking up a loss before a match against Venus or Serena.
"That's a pretty bad attitude if you think that," said the 10th-ranked Davenport, who won her match today, playing in her fourth event since returning from knee surgery. "They're obviously the best players in the world. There's no doubt about that, and you can't run from it, but it is tennis and they are human.
"They're obviously head and shoulders above everyone else right now, and it's a challenge to get them off the top. It's going to be difficult, but I don't have Jelena's view."
In the opinion of some players, the Williams sisters will win as long as they stay interested in the game. Right now, the threats to their hold on the Tour are limited, not just because of their power, but because of their psychological toughness as well.
"I could have beaten Venus two times this year," said seventh-ranked Justine Henin, who lost twice in three sets to Venus earlier this year. "I didn't win because she's mentally strong also. When you play like they do, it is hard, but it's not an impossible mission."
Petite players like Henin are trying to counter the Williams sisters with a mixture of speed and a change of pace. Muscular players like Jennifer Capriati are working on a more consistent first serve.
"They're No. 1 and No. 2," Amélie Mauresmo, ranked No. 9, said after her victory today at the Pilot Pen, referring to Venus and Serena. "Even though it is pretty impressive what they are doing, it's not going to last forever. They have confidence and momentum and three Grand Slam finals and everything is going well for them at the moment. But I think the low is going to come, and we have to be here and be ready when it does."
Aug 22nd, 2002, 02:37 AM
Order of Play - Thursday
Stadium - 1pm
Mauresmo vs Davenport
Williams vs Granville
Sucha or Schnyder vs Majoli or Hantuchova
7pm (night session)
Hingis vs Myskina
Doubles quarter final
Aug 23rd, 2002, 09:55 PM
Venus Williams vs. Daniela Hantuchova
Williams leads 2-0; 1-0 on hardcourts
2001-06-25 Wimbledon Grass R64 Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 6-2
2002-01-14 Australian Open Hardcourt R32 Venus Williams (USA) 3-6 6-0 6-4
Lindsay Davenport vs. Anastasia Myskina
Davenport leads 1-0; 1-0 on hardcourts
2001-08-20 New Haven Hardcourt R16 Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-2 6-1
Aug 23rd, 2002, 09:56 PM
Williams ends Granville's run
News Haven Register
By Sean Barker, Assistant Sports Editor
NEW HAVEN — Laura Granville's remarkable run from the qualifying round to the quarterfinals of the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament came to an end Thursday.
But the two-time NCAA champion finds herself in pretty select company, because everyone's run at the Pilot Pen has come to an end over the past four years when they face Venus Williams.
Williams, the top seed and three-time defending champion at the Pilot Pen and No. 2 player in the world, defeated Granville 6-2, 6-1 on Stadium Court at the Connecticut Tennis Center. It was Williams' 14th straight victory at the Pilot Pen and 11th overall this year. Granville, who won three qualifying matches in three days just to earn a spot in the main draw, played six matches in a seven-day span.
"She has a good serve," Williams said. "I think she has a really good attitude on the court as far as giving her best and trying very hard. She came in a lot, even though I was passing her. She just kept coming, which is a good thing because there were a lot of opportunities at the net."
If playing six matches in seven days wasn't enough to tire someone out, Glanville also had to deal with Williams' serve, which consistently reached over 110 mph and topped out at 118.
"I think I am pretty worn out physically and mentally (and) emotionally," Granville said. "So I am really glad that I have three days to rest before the (U.S.) Open."
While Williams basks on stadium courts, playing the crowd with as much ease as she plays the game, this was only Granville's second appearance ever on a stadium court. She played her other matches this week on Grandstand Court.
"In juniors and college, you obviously are not playing in stadiums like that," said Granville, who won two NCAA titles at Stanford.
It was Granville's first up-close look at Williams, whom she has watched play before.
"After playing her, she is an amazing player," Granville said. "She's a terrific athlete, and also a very powerful, really good tennis player. I think it was a good learning experience for me. If I want to play with the top players, and she's one of them, it shows me different things I need to improve on."
Williams admitted she wasn't at the top of her game in the first set, but said it had nothing to do with the fact that Granville was ranked 62nd in the world.
"Not at all," Williams said. "This is her big chance to make it happen, to gain points and to make a name. She has a lot of things that can go well for her getting a win over me. I have no problem getting ready for these types of matches." Williams, who was broken in the opening game of the first set, more than made up for it in the second set, especially late. Her last three serves were blistering, beginning with a 113-mph ace, followed by back-to-back 116-mph serves, including an ace on match point.
"I was going for a lot more shots (early) and doing different things, so at one point I did see where my unforced error count was getting a little high," Williams said, "so especially during the last two games of the match I tried to clean it up some."
"Venus didn't let me play my game," Granville said. "If I was playing a different player maybe it would have been different, but she didn't really give me a chance."
Venus Williams vs. Lindsay Davenport
Tied 10-10; 8-8 on hardcourts
1997-03-03 Indian Wells Hardcourt QF Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-4 5-7 7-6(1)
1997-10-13 Zurich Indoor Hardcourt QF Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-0 6-4
1998-01-19 Australian Open Hardcourt QF Lindsay Davenport (USA) 1-6 7-5 6-3
1998-02-23 Oklahoma City Indoor Hardcourt SF Venus Williams (USA) 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3
1998-07-27 Stanford Hardcourt F Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-4 5-7 6-4
1998-08-31 U.S. Open Hardcourt SF Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-4 6-4
1998-10-12 Zurich Indoor Hardcourt F Lindsay Davenport (USA) 7-5 6-3
1999-01-18 Australian Open Hardcourt QF Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-4 6-0
1999-07-26 Stanford Hardcourt F Lindsay Davenport (USA) 7-6(1) 6-2
1999-08-02 San Diego Hardcourt SF Venus Williams (USA) 6-4 7-5
1999-08-23 New Haven Hardcourt F Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 7-5
1999-11-08 Philadelphia Indoor Carpet SF Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-1 6-2
2000-06-26 Wimbledon Grass F Venus Williams (USA) 6-3 7-6(3)
2000-07-24 Stanford Hardcourt F Venus Williams (USA) 6-1 6-4
2000-08-28 U.S. Open Hardcourt F Venus Williams (USA) 6-4 7-5
2000-10-16 Linz Indoor Carpet F Lindsay Davenport (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-2
2001-06-25 Wimbledon Grass SF Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 6-7(1) 6-1
2001-07-30 San Diego Hardcourt SF Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 7-5
2001-08-20 New Haven Hardcourt F Venus Williams (USA) 7-6(6) 6-4
2002-07-29 San Diego Hardcourt SF Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 6-1
Aug 24th, 2002, 03:16 AM
Fine-Tuning Their Craft
News Haven Register
By Karen Tucker, Register Staff
For the last two years, Venus Williams has come to New Haven in late August, won the Pilot Pen tournament and then traveled down I-95 to New York to claim the U.S. Open title.
Six years ago, Martina Hingis played an exhibition called ath the SNET Classic at the Connecticut Tennis Center and then played in the U.S. Open where she made her "breakthrough" into the world of tennis.
Williams and Hingis are not alone in their experiences coming to New Haven before the U.S. Open.
"I think everyone just wants to be here and to play and to get one last boost of confidence (before the U.S. Open)," Williams said. "Coming off a tournament win going into a Grand Slam is very wonderful.
Even if I'm not exactly playing my best tennis, I go in confident and usually I feel very good, as if I can do anything, so that helps a lot."
While not every player on the tour can attest to having such luck at the Pilot Pen, the benefits of playing here before a Grand Slam tournament are apparent to many.
"I think the biggest advantage to the Pilot Pen and why we get such a great playing field is because the Connecticut Tennis Center is the same surface and the same feel as the U.S. Open," said Anne Worcester, Pilot Pen tournament director ."The atmosphere is very similar, thanks to the crowds, same surface, same climate and it's an easy drive right down (Interstate) 95. So those four things, that's the core decision for the tennis players."
Comparable to the World Series , the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby, the Women's Tennis Association showcases the best of the best in four Grand Slam tournaments, known as the Big Four (the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open), each season.
The hype of these tournaments, however, does not take any significance away from the other 63 events on the WTA professional circuit. On the contrary, it may grant added importance to those tournaments serving as preludes to Grand Slams.
"It's (the Pilot Pen) a great lead-up tournament," Martina Navratilova said. "You can play on the same surface, and then when you're done you drive two hours and you're in the city. It's a great tournament on its own, but I think it's a perfect lead-up tournament."
Navratilova said she only wishes that it were here years ago when she made her debut at the top. With 56 Grand Slam titles, Navratilova is second on the all-time leaderboard, winning 18 singles titles, 31 doubles and seven mixed. Her first Grand Slam singles title came in 1978 at Wimbledon.
"I think this is a great centerfold," Navratilova said. "It's a beautiful stadium, and people support the tournament very well. It's a great field, 15 of the top 20 are here, that's as good as it gets."
With six of the top 10 women's players in the world in New Haven this week, the field is definitely one for which to be reckoned.
"This is a very, very tough tournament," Anna Smashnova said. "But it's the only tournament before the U.S. Open so it's obvious that everyone wants to play so they have a good warm-up before the Open."
Smashnova, No. 18 in the world, was defeated by Hingis in first-round action Monday night.
Before the Australian Open in January there are three tournaments throughout Australia, the ANZ Tasmanian International, the Canberra Women's Classic and the Adidas International.
Prior to the French Open in Paris in May, players can compete at the Internationaux de Strasbourge or the Open de España Villa de Madrid-Trofeo Volkswagen in Madrid.
Finally before Wimbledon in June, the WTA offers a tournament in Eastbourne, England, and one in The Netherlands. Both are on grass courts to prepare players for Wimbledon.
"Eastbourne is a great tournament," Elena Likhovtseva said. "The one before Paris, for me I'd rather just have a week off because they are small tournaments and sometimes it's just better not to play. It depends on how you're feeling, if you need to play some matches then you still go."
Likhovtseva, No. 36 in the world, was ousted in qualifying for the singles tournament in New Haven this year but continues to advance in the doubles bracket with partner Cara Black.
"And before the French Open," Smashnova added, "there are two tournaments but they are, I think, Tier III so some big players don't play those tournaments."
Tier III events include tournaments having minimum prize money of $170,000 and approved by the WTA. There are 16 Tier III events each year, compared to the nine Tier I events that have a minimum prize money of $1,224,000 and the 17 Tier II events that have a minimum prize money of $585,000.
Prior to the U.S. Open in August, however, the Pilot Pen stands alone.
When asked if the Pilot Pen is a great place to prepare for the U.S. Open, Jennifer Hopkins said, "Oh yeah because you're playing the best players and if you lose you still have everyone here to practice with.
You can't get any better practice."
Hopkins survived three rounds of qualifying to advance into the main draw where she was defeated by Daniela Hantuchova on Tuesday.
The fact that everyone comes to New Haven, however, has its negative aspects as well.
"This tournament is so tough; the cutoff for the main draw was 23," Hopkins said.
"You would never see a men's tournament like that. We just have to get another tournament this week. Because all these girls want to get ready for the U.S. Open and this is the only tournament to do it at. So everyone comes here. You're seeing girls like Ai Sugiyama and (Martina) Sucha, they should be in the main draw, they're great players."
As far as scheduling, it is often a difficult decision for players to decide what events to participate in before a Grand Slam. Luckily coming to the Pilot Pen is a given for some.
Worcester describes Williams, the No. 2 player in the world, as the "icon of this event." Williams is the only current three-time defending champion on the WTA tour because of her three titles in New Haven. Add to that the fact that Williams went on to also claim the U.S. Open the last two years, and perhaps there's a lot to say for the confidence boost before a Grand Slam.
"I think it's been really instrumental because I just had two weeks off, so to take three weeks off is a little difficult before going into a Grand Slam," Williams said. "So I come here and have had three great years here. It's been nice."
Aug 24th, 2002, 03:38 AM
Williams, Davenport to meet in final
By DONNA TOMMELLEO
AP Sports Writer
August 23, 2002
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Venus Williams beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3, Friday night in the Pilot Pen and will play Lindsay Davenport in the championship for the third time in four years.
The three-time defending champ, Williams is unbeaten in her four years at New Haven and has been stretched to three sets only twice. She's dominated the Pilot Pen field again this year with her strength, speed and service game.
In her two-week rest before the tournament, Williams said she worked on perfecting her toss.
``It's been throwing me off I guess just all my life,'' she said. ``This whole tournament has been a lot of great tosses.''
With serves consistently higher than 110 mph, she overwhelmed the seventh-seeded Hantuchova.
The 19-year-old Hantuchova managed to win points on the strength of her precision groundstrokes and occasional well-timed lobs and drops, but could do little with Williams' serves.
``It's really hard to react when it's coming so fast,'' Hantuchova said.
Williams scored on 86 percent of her first serves. Hantuchova, meanwhile struggled from the line and Williams pounced on the second serves, ripping winners from side to side.
Davenport cruised in her semifinal earlier, beating Anastasia Myskina 6-2, 6-2. She advanced to her second final in four tournaments since returning from knee surgery that sidelined her until last month.
``It's been such a great story seeing her come back,'' Williams said. ``So I know I have to be ready when I play her.''
The match is the final tuneup for both before the U.S. Open, which begins Monday. Williams is the two-time defending champ in New York.
Davenport made the semis at her other two events in her comeback, beating top-10 players Jelena Dokic and Amelie Mauresmo along the way.
``I was not sure how the whole comeback would pan out and was expecting to take my lumps in the beginning,'' said Davenport, the 1998 U.S. Open champion.
One of the lumps was a straight-sets loss to Williams in the semifinals at San Diego. Davenport won only three games in the match. She rebounded at Los Angeles and made the final before losing to Chanda Rubin in three sets.
``She's very good right now,'' Myskina said. ``I think she's really back.''
Davenport was in complete control against the 16th-ranked Myskina, needing just 48 minutes to win. Myskina was coming off a three-set match against Martina Hingis on Thursday night and couldn't catch up with Davenport's big serves or hard-hit winners.
``I knew she had a long match last night and I new Martina doesn't hit as hard as I do, so I wanted to overwhelm her with pace and try and overpower her,'' Davenport said.
Davenport converted five of nine break points and scored on all seven of her net approaches.
Myskina said she didn't sleep well after the Hingis match.
``I was very tired,'' Myskina, ``I know with Lindsay I have to be ready 100 percent to beat her.''
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Venus Williams beat Lindsay Davenport 7-5, 6-0 to win her fourth-straight Pilot Pen title Saturday, building a 13-match win streak going into the U.S. Open.
Williams, the two-time defending U.S. Open champion, has dominated the New Haven hardcourts since her first appearance here in 1999. She's beaten Davenport three times in the past four years for the Pilot Pen title.
Davenport, playing in her fourth tournament since returning last month from knee surgery, started out crisply. She broke the top-seeded Williams in the first game with strong returns and passing shots.
Up a break in the first set and leading 5-3, Davenport began to unravel with several unforced errors and went winless the rest of the way, losing 10 straight games. Williams toughened and began reaching the shots that eluded her earlier in the match.
Davenport's serve also abandoned her down the stretch. The second-seeded Davenport double-faulted one break in the second set and had trouble getting her first serve in. Williams closed out the match by pouncing on Davenport's 86-mph second serve with a backhand cross-court winner.
NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug 24 — Venus Williams is headed to the U.S. Open on a roll. Williams, the two-time defending U.S. Open champion, beat Lindsay Davenport 7-5, 6-0 Saturday to win her fourth-straight Pilot Pen title. She’s the first woman to win the same tournament four years in a row since Monica Seles did it in the Canadian Open from 1995-98.
WILLIAMS HAS WON 13 straight matches heading into the final Grand Slam event, which begins Monday.
“Technically I feel pretty sound,” said Williams, who has beaten Davenport for the Pilot Pen title three of the last four years. “I know in the big matches in the Open, the best players have to be able to come through technically.
“When my techniques start to break, then that’s when I start to lose it.”
She hasn’t lost much this year, improving to 51-6 with the win over Davenport, who was playing in her fourth tournament since returning last month from knee surgery. Davenport has made it to two semifinals and two finals in her comeback.
Davenport started out crisply. She broke the top-seeded Williams in the first game with strong returns and passing shots.
Up a break in the first set and leading 5-3, Davenport began to unravel with several unforced errors and went winless the rest of the way, losing 10 straight games.
“Against a lot of players you can have your kind of lapse and it’s not that big a deal,” Davenport said. “Against her, she then takes advantage of it. She’s able to play better at the bigger moments.”
Davenport’s serve also abandoned her down the stretch. She double-faulted one break in the second set and had trouble getting her first serve in. She won points on just 13 of 34 first serves and only scored on half of her second serves.
Williams closed out the match by pouncing on Davenport’s 86-mph second serve with a backhand crosscourt winner.
When Williams toughened, she began reaching the shots that eluded her earlier in the match. Williams stepped up the attack and took away Davenport’s effective net game.
“I thought I couldn’t let the match continue like that,” Williams said. “It takes time before any player can really get to the level where they can be able to come back against great players like Lindsay. I’m really happy I’m at that level now.”
Davenport said despite the loss, she’s pleased with her comeback and preparation for the U.S. Open.
“I’m in a much better mind frame now that I’ve come here and played well than if I’d not played at all this week,” Davenport said. “When you play the week before a slam, you’ve got to be able to put it behind you and look forward.”
Aug 24th, 2002, 11:04 PM
Thanks for the articles and pics, Okasu!
I am so proud of Venus today!
Congratulations to her on her winning streak, and her 4th straight Pilot Pen title!
SWEET SIXTEEN Venus still perfect at Pilot Pen
News Haven Register
By Sean O'Rourke, Register Staff
NEW HAVEN — Venus Williams held a Sweet 16 party with 8,523 fans at the Connecticut Tennis Center Saturday afternoon.
Williams was at her best once again at the Pilot Pen tournament as she beat Lindsay Davenport 7-5, 6-0 in a championship match that lasted 64 minutes. The victory gave Williams her fourth straight Pilot Pen title and marked the 16th straight match she has won in New Haven.
The Pilot Pen set a WTA Tour Tier II attendance record for the second straight year as 92,814 came to the CTC for the nine-day event, 127 more than last summer.
Williams is the first player to win a tournament four straight years since Monica Seles accomplished the feat at the Canadian Open from 1995-98. She didn't lose a set during her four Pilot Pen wins this year and won the last 10 games of the match Saturday against Davenport. It was the third time Williams has beaten Davenport in the Pilot Pen final.
"I have never played any event like I play this one, that's for sure," Williams said.
Williams, the world's No. 2 player, second only to sister Serena, also has won 13 straight matches this summer and three straight tournament titles.
She previously won in Stanford, Calif., and San Diego. Williams now heads to New York to play the U.S. Open, which she has won twice in a row.
The top-seeded Williams all but committed to come back and defend her title at the Pilot Pen next year. "I'd love to come back," Williams said.
"I have to at least try and keep it (the winning streak) going."
Williams, 22, earned $93,000 and now has won 28 WTA Tour titles since turning pro in October, 1994. She is now 11-10 in matches against Davenport and owns a 6-4 record against her in championship matches. Davenport, 26, earned $49,000 and has now been runner-up in her last two events, including a loss to Chanda Rubin in Los Angeles earlier this month.
The winning streaks for Williams looked to be challenged for a moment early as Davenport broke Williams twice and opened up a 5-3 lead in the first set.
But Williams turned her game up a notch and the second-seeded Davenport suffered a meltdown. Williams held serve to make it 5-4 before breaking Davenport in the 10th game to make it 5-5. Davenport, who was playing her fourth tournament since coming back from being out eight months with a knee injury, realized she missed a golden opportunity serving at 5-4.
"I really wish I could go back to 5-4 and try to serve it out again," Davenport said. "Those are the types of games where I haven't been stepping up my level. When you get close in matches you have to be able to play better than that. She (Williams) is able to do that."
Williams held serve to make it 6-5, but Davenport had a chance to force a tiebreak as she was serving with a 40-30 lead in the next game.
But Williams nailed a forehand winner to force deuce before Davenport self-destructed with a double fault and then had an unforced error to give Williams the set at 7-5.
"She is able to play better at the bigger moments, and that's really the most important aspect of tennis," Davenport said. "If you play well at the right times, then you are going to come out ahead."
Williams continued to dominate in the second set. She broke serve in the second game when Davenport double faulted at 15-40 and held serve in the fourth game after four deuce points to make it 3-0.
"I think she was probably a little bit frustrated because she probably felt that she should have won the first set," Williams said.
And Williams admitted that once she started winning every game, there was no chance of a Davenport comeback.
"I'm not sure what happened on that side of the net, but I really enjoyed it once I started getting those games," Williams said. "When I start reeling them off, I have a great time out there."
The match was finished off in fitting fashion in the sixth game of the second set as Williams ripped a backhand winner that was unreachable by Davenport.
"I was frustrated (in the second set)," Davenport said. "I played well, then I kind of let up a little.
But it was like 'Oh, it's love-3 in the second set,'" Davenport said. "It just happened so fast. If you have that lapse against a lot of players, it's not that big a deal, but she (Williams) takes advantage of it."
Aug 25th, 2002, 05:39 PM
Crowds, competition getting better every year
News Haven Register
By Brian McCready, Register Staff
NEW HAVEN — Umbrellas and rain slickers dotted the stands and a few raindrops fell, but more than 11,000 tennis fans shined with excitement Saturday as another successful Pilot Pen tournament came to an end.
They watched Venus Williams win her fourth Pilot Pen championship in a row, beating fellow star Lindsay Davenport. Williams' dominance in New Haven has rubbed off on fans in the area.
Winston Hylton, of Springfield, Mass., said he's been coming to the Pilot Pen for the last four years because of his "love for the game" and to support Williams, his favorite player. Hylton said he was undaunted by the 90-minute trip or the weather conditions.
William Ferrigno of Killingworth and his daughter Jennifer, 10, are drawn to the tournament because it attracts the best female players in the world. However, father and daughter were split as to who they wanted to win.
"Venus, she's my favorite player," Jennifer said. "I like her spirit."
Dad rooted for Lindsay Davenport.
"Venus has won it the last three years, it's time for someone else," Ferrigno said. "However, more important than who wins is that it's good tennis." Unfortunately for Ferrigno, daughter knows best.
Rick Nelson, president of the tennis foundation of Connecticut, said this year's tournament was the best yet.
"There's been great crowds and great play. Each year it gets more successful," Nelson said.
Nelson said he's pleased by Greater New Haven's support for the tournament. He also said the athletes have told him they enjoy playing in New Haven.
"It's been so wonderful," Nelson said. "I'm not sure we could have said that five years ago."
Marion Saunders of Waterbury spent her vacation at the Pilot Pen so she could root for Williams.
"There's no better way to spend a vacation then to watch Venus play in person for the first time," Saunders said. "I'm interested in tennis because of the Williams sisters."
Oliver Goncalo and his wife, Alisandro, took in the action Saturday, because they love women's tennis. Goncalo said it's the third year they've made it to the finals and each time it gets better.
"There's more and more people, bigger names," Goncalo said. "It's just a great time here in New Haven."
Ken and Carol Smith of New Haven said this was their seventh year coming to the New Haven tennis tournament.
"We're here for Venus, but my husband is changing his mind because Venus didn't give him an autograph," Carol Smith said.
Carol Smith said she's been following Venus' career before she ever won her first grand slam tournament or became one of the world's top players.
"Venus' story is so inspirational and how she came from poor means," Carol Smith said.
"I came to enjoy good tennis," Ken Smith said. "They're both great players, who give their all. If the rain holds off we'll get our moneys worth."
Philip and Connie Booth of Hamden came to the Pilot Pen Saturday with their son, Jordan, 10.
"We came because we want to see Lindsay win," Philip Booth said. "It would be nice to see someone else win."
The Booths said they prefer women's tennis.
"The women's game is more diverse, while the men's game is too fast paced," Philip Booth said. "With the women's game there's more of a chance for strategy and more emotion."
Barbara Coughlin of Ansonia and her friend Patti Berman of Hamden said they were there to support Davenport because she's just coming off an injury.
Coughlin said she's a new fan of women's tennis, while Berman said she's been a life long sports fan.
Berman and Coughlin said the scattered showers wouldn't dampen the festive atmosphere.
Aug 26th, 2002, 12:40 AM
thanks for the articles.
Venus is stunning. :)
Aug 26th, 2002, 05:31 PM
2002 PILOT PEN TENNIS
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
August 24, 2002
7 -5, 6-0
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What did you do differently when you got down 5-3, what did you change? Anything? Did you just elevate your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I was down 5-3?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know, I guess I wasn't so much thinking about the scores. I was thinking more or less about holding serve. I was playing so many short balls, and she was having a big opportunity to come in and volley and take balls out of the air and I was always on the defense and I felt that I couldn't continue the match like that. She played really well, and she was able to break my serve a couple of times. But then I was able to raise the level of my game.
Q. Do you really not keep track -- do you not know that you have won 10 straight or ---
VENUS WILLIAMS: I wasn't thinking about that. I was just concentrating on getting the points for me. I guess that's what happened as a result. I didn't realize the score.
Q. Did she show you any different things this time around as opposed to your other matchups with her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really. I think pretty much when we play each other we know what to expect. We have played so many times. Neither one of us has drastically changed our games so that we would throw the other one off. When we come out there we know what we are up against.
Q. Compare the way she played to San Diego when it was ---
VENUS WILLIAMS: In San Diego I think she just made a few more unforced errors. I did have to play well to get that score line. But I think today she made less errors. She definitely served better. But she's definitely had some great results coming back. I don't even think she expected this. So for her to be in these Finals is really, really unbelievable.
Q. When did you sense that she was probably frustrated or getting tired, did you sense that at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I can tell of course, even if I was in the position she was in today where she was serving for the first set, and wasn't able to get it, I think maybe, you know, I have been in those positions before so I can sense what my opponent is feeling.
Q. You mentioned yesterday about the streak between you two and how you got tired of losing to her in the beginning. At 5-3 were you thinking along those lines the same way like she's not going to beat me again and that's mentally you elevate the state of your game?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I just -- I guess I remember 4-3 and I don't remember really the score line being 5-3, I just remember serving and holding serve then breaking at 5-4 so I guess I really wasn't thinking about the score line. I was really serious into holding serve. I just felt I wasn't going to lose at least that game.
Q. 16 in a row here. Any significance to that for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I have never played any event like I play this one, that's for sure.
Q. No one on Tour has done that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, well, I don't know.
Q. In five years -- it has been five years since someone has won four.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really. Yeah, I guess there have been players out there who have done better than what I have in events winning five and six in a row. But at least I have four in a row.
Q. Will you keep coming back as long as you are the champion?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'd love to. I have got to at least try and keep it going.
Q. Lindsay thought your forehand was much better and more consistent with your shots overall now. Do you feel it's true?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely so. I don't -- I have gotten older and I keep working and I have been able to get better and definitely some years ago I would be inconsistent and she would go to the forehand for errors, but now almost I guess it is my favorite side to play. I think basically both have gotten better and even before she was injured she had gotten better also. At this point she's just about I think at her highest level.
Q. Are you happy to be playing like this going into the Open? Is this where you want to be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Mentally I feel there. For me that's the whole battle is to mentally be able to feel I am in the competition. That's definitely a good thing going into the US Open.
Q. When you talk about stepping up your game as you did today, is it a mental step up or more physical? What kind of switch is that? What goes through your mind?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess it is mental, sure. Definitely to keep the unforced errors down and to definitely make my opponent work more for the point if I am going to win the point. And I guess a lot of it is physical too because then I really track down if I can't every ball and keep them coming back. (Laughs). That's what I also try to do. And I think more than anything I just really expect it from myself to do these things and it takes time before I guess any player on Tour can really get to the level where they can be able to come back against great players like Lindsay, but I am really happy that I am at that level now.
Q. You talked about yesterday about having trouble with your toss from time to time during your career. Did that happen a little today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, my toss wasn't there. I don't think I was taking enough time in between serves to correct it and also I think I should have slowed my first serve down some just to get a rhythm than get them in. But then I was thinking I have to go for it, I have to force the issue, so just wanted to keep hitting them big.
Q. Do you have a battle in your mind with yourself when something like that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: With the serve?
Q. With yourself when you are playing, I need to slow down but I want to go for it and --
VENUS WILLIAMS: I like to play fast. When I come out there on the court I am ready to play. I don't have to delay. I am ready to play each point whether it is a good call, bad call, I try to keep playing. Of course if it is a bad call at matchpoint against you, then that's bad. But (laughs) -- I try to play and keep the rhythm of the play.
Q. Does your overall play here, Venus, give you a big lift going into the Open, feel confident going into the Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Technically I feel pretty sound and I know that in the big matches against the best players are going to have to be able to come through technically because when my technique starts to break that's when I just lose it. Really this week I was focused in on trying to do the right thing technically and on the big points.
Q. Have you decided with your sister when you are playing doubles yet?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We have to decide quick because I think the deadline is like 12 noon, but I talked to her yesterday but I forgot to ask her about the doubles. Then I went in the elevator and the line cut off and I forgot to call her back. So -- I will see her today. We have to talk about it. Thanks for reminding me.
Q. Talk about her knee at all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, no. We didn't talk about that.
Q. Do you have like a friendly, like competition between you, like if she gets to the final like, you know, like you guys are in opposite brackets so you both obviously want to keep winning to get to the final, it is like a contest at all between you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really because even though we have been able to play well these last few months, it's not like opponents gave us matches or that we played badly and still won very easily. We have to get out there and we have to work hard and we have to make it happen every match. So basically we take it one match at a time and if we both get to the final that's great. If one of us gets to the final, that's great too, but as long as we are there, as long as we are healthy, that's all we want.
Q. A couple of players were talking I think it was Dokic who said that when players come into a tournament knowing you are there, they almost say well, we can settle for a semifinal or quarterfinal appearance and even Lindsay said that for you to lose, you almost have to self-destruct. Do you feel that way, that you come in that much ahead of everyone else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think there's definitely a lot of great players out there and for that reason also I have been able to raise the level of my game because when there's good competition that's when you get the best out of yourself. But I definitely think that if I don't make a lot of errors then it's going to be a tough match for my opponent unless I am hitting every ball up the middle very softly then I guess they can pound me away but that's not my game. If I am serving well and I am not making 50 or 60 or 70 errors, then I think most likely I will be successful.
Q. Do you find there are a lot of scores like today where somebody plays you tough for the first set it seems to take all the energy they have and then they just have a letdown in the second?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know, but I am not sure exactly what happened on her side of the net, but I just enjoyed once I started getting those games, I just -- especially the past couple of weeks, I just start reeling them off and I just get -- I just start to have a great time out there. It is just -- (laughs) I don't know. Just really been enjoying more than anything just the competition, you know, for 6-5, I try my best to get it to the tiebreaker and the more I play well, the more games that I win, the more that I try not to lose even one point, so I guess I really just enjoy competing out there.
Q. Do you feel in anyway that she's at a disadvantage having played only four tournaments this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't really think so because she really playing really, really well and for every player that she's played, like Mauresmo who's been playing great and won Montreal and semifinals of Wimbledon, she handled her very easily. And all her score lines have been pretty much like mine, so I think she's been playing really, really well. I mean, much more than anyone ever would have expected. I think it's just a matter of time before I guess she gets one over on me.
Q. In the second set she seemed really down. Her body language seemed to suggest she was kind of done. Could you see that the way she was playing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sometimes I do see my opponent. I don't always watch everything that they do as much. But, you know, I think that she was a little frustrated because she probably felt that she should have won that first set. And also I just kept getting all these balls back and a lot of her best shots and then I would hit a pretty good shot and she probably wasn't expecting me to do that.
Q. Do you ever stop and think how much you and Serena made your dad seem like a genius?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just -- I just know that we put in a lot of hard work and we studied really hard.
Q. You are happy to have this match out of the way and hopefully kind of day out of your system?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I suppose. I think today was like all the other days.
Q. I mean in terms the unsteady play on both sides of the net, kind of a lot of unforced errors.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, but I was going for a lot more shots and trying different things, so at one point I did see where my unforced error count was getting little high and it makes it a lot more difficult of course when I am giving away those easy shots, easy points. Especially the last two games of the match I tried to clean it up some.
Q. How much did you know about your opponent coming into?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have seen her play before, so I did -- I didn't know how she played but in the warm-up of course I took a look at her game but just like any other player on Tour I respect her as a player and I know I have to go out there and play just not going to give it to me.
Q. Is it hard to get fired up for a player ranked that low and fairly unknown?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not at all. This is her big chance to make it happen and to gain points and to make a name. She has a lot of things that can go well for her getting a win over me. I have no problem getting ready for these kind of matches.
Q. You had to learn about her game as the match went on since you had never played her before. What about her game may have surprised you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She has a good serve. I think she has a really good attitude on the court as far as giving her best and trying very hard. She came in a lot even though I was passing her, she just kept coming which is a good thing because there was a lot of opportunities at the net.
Q. You mentioned outside on the court looking to get back to No. 1. Can you talk about that little rivalry right now with Serena and how you want to get back to No. 1; what it's going to take from this point on?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, just a few tournament wins, sometime in the fall, but that's a few weeks from now. My main focus is the Pilot Pen right now.
Q. Do you feel going into the Open better prepared than Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't know. Maybe. (Laughs).
Q. That means yes?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I really don't know. So... Haven't been really thinking about that.
Q. You are probably not thinking about this but I will try anyhow, Serena and you, doubles, have you decided yet?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I asked her the other day - I said, are you playing doubles. She said, I don't know. Are you? Yeah, that meant kind of, I don't know, after that we went on to talk about other things.
Q. Because this is just a good warmup for the U.S. open, courts are similar and the stadiums are similar, have you ever asked Serena about possibly playing doubles here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest I don't consider it a warmup. I really think that the events on our Tour are very important. I am here because I like to be here not because I am trying get a tune-up for the US Open. If I am not ready for the US Open after all these years then I am not going to be ready just because of this tournament so I am here because I like being here and I like to support Tour events.
Q. Over the years what have you noticed about New Haven as a city, its character and what do you like about it; dislike about it perhaps?
VENUS WILLIAMS: So many nice restaurants. That's the first part, really big variety. I never really get passed the hotel doors. Especially this year, I have been really stagnant. I don't know why. Been wanting to relax because -- I didn't relax enough when I was at home, so been really relaxing.
Q. You don't get out and --
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not as much. Like last year I went -- not last year the year before. Well, previous years I went to the shops and I went to the restaurants every night, and that kind of thing.
Q. What was your impression on the character of the city?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's nice. I think it has the feel of a modern city but yet kind of an old-town feeling. It's not too big and you are kind of can get to different places very quickly. It has a little bit of everything.
Q. Some reason you don't consider this a warmup because you have won this three years in a row so it's your tournament?
VENUS WILLIAMS: If I wanted to warm-up best thing for me would be to stay home and practice. That's what I like to do before I am playing in a huge event. But I just like the tournament. Anne keeps getting me to come back an so that's why I am here.
Q. When you win a tournament three times in a row, does it make you feel different while you are competing in it? Do you feel some ownership over the tournament and it's yours, win or lose?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I won a couple three in a row before. And it's just nice to know that you haven't lost recently, it's not as much fun losing so I know when I come here, I can expect a few wins.
Q. It seemed like for several years there when you were younger about the only thing that held you back were these injuries that you would have to deal with every now and then. How does it feel this year to apparently to be injury-free from start to finish, meanwhile you look at some of your other rivals there and they are the ones that have been getting hurt this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I started out early. I think that main thing is I grew very fast so my body had to catch up with my height so I had lots of injuries and plus I really pound the ball and I run hard and I do all kind of things so when I was younger that was tough and still I have injuries. But they haven't kept me off the Tour. So that has been nice this year.
Q. Would you say there's any particular aspect of your game that is much better now than it was when you first came here three years ago?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think just mentally I am a lot better. I remember when I first came here in '99 I won the tournament but I was really struggling to keep it under control and as a result the US Open, I kind of lost control too as far as not winning the matches that I should have won, but since that time been able to improve on that.
Q. Does your sister ever tell you I want to play New Haven next year? Does she ever kind of kid you and say oh, no, it's my turn to play here next year, you play somewhere else?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No. We don't really talk a lot about tournaments and tennis. Not really.
Q. Would you be hesitant to have her in a tournament like this since it's so close to the Open or would that not factor in?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. What were you doing on the computer this morning? Your father said you were up early on the computer.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I couldn't get on line today. I had some -- some important he mails, (laughs) and so I am going to have to use the facilities here. But really that's all I was doing. Then I did my hair.
Q. Are you suggesting that -- I think he was thinking that you might win the US Open this year?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That's my plan. (Laughs) Going into every tournament my plan is to take it home. It doesn't happen every time, and basically only thing I am guaranteed is a first round match and I am not guaranteed that second one, so I have got to fight to get just to the second round and hopefully the tournament win.
Q. You mentioned you enjoy the restaurants in this area. Anything else about the New Haven area that peaks your interests and any other stops on Tour that you particularly enjoy for stuff away from the court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really it just depends on how many events I am playing and when I get to the tournament and depends on a lot of things. I haven't done that much here as I should.
Q. How about in years past?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, actually, believe it or not, I have to do like a lot of interviews and, you know, sponsor events and that kind of thing, so once you juggle your schedule with that and of course practice, can't forget that, then a little bit of training and a little bit of ice, a little bit of the gym, by that time you just spend the rest of your time relaxing.
Q. How about a little shopping?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I am over that. I don't need it anymore.
Q. You got everything?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have got everything. Please believe
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I have been working on my toss. That's really been throwing me off for, I guess all of my life, but really I noticed this year that my toss has been really -- if I am not hitting the ball in the right spot the ball doesn't go in. This whole tournament week has been a lot of great tosses; I think that helped me out today.
Q. Practicing your serves your dad watching earlier today, what was that all about?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I always practice my serve.
Q. But in a grandstand court.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Oh, the other day?
Q. Today. This evening.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I didn't hit on grandstand today. It was and imposter.
Q. Stadium, I am sorry.
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I always practice my serve before a match, normal practice. It is just a routine thing.
Q. I noticed in the game of the first set you went from a 111 to 113, 115, 115 then you came down to 97. Is that intentional trying to throw off the pace because she seemed to be -- your timing was quite off?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think that if I am going to get it in in such a pace it's going to be rare that she's going or any other player is going to hit it back as a winner or putting me on the defense. But sometimes it's nice to mix it up and to hit maybe a high top-spinned ball or different pace. I do like to force the issue but sometimes also I do like to mix it up.
Q. Daniela said that technically you are really strong right now compared to when she played you in Australia?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Australia was a different story. I was just lucky to be in that round, and I just had a lot, a lot of issues. This is a different day.
Q. Are you peaking right now do you think? This usually is your time where you peak.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't know. I really have been working on my technique especially this week and when I went home after playing California because when my technique is not there I am not able to do as well. I just want to do everything that I am supposed to do, win or lose; then I can be happy with that.
Q. That last game you hit a couple of hard forehands and drop shots. You looked like you were having a lot of fun with her out there.
VENUS WILLIAMS: One thing about tennis you can't always plan your shot, so you have to think quick. And I guess it's pretty automatic after all the years, but I like to do those drop shot approaches. That's one of my favorite shots.
Q. You suggested you thought you were a little inconsistent. Where were you inconsistent?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I thought I was missing a lot. That's just how I felt today. I don't know. Maybe I wasn't. But I'd like to be more consistent.
Q. Are you motivated by how big a deal it would be for just about anyone to beat you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I realize that I can't win every match but I do realize that I want to win every match. But if someone can come out there and beat me on that day, then I guess it is great for them. I am not too motivated by all those kind of things.
Q. How about playing Lindsay tomorrow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess I had not the most difficult scoring line against her in San Diego, so if anything, she will be looking to improve on that. There to win the match. Of course I will be doing the same thing going out there to win.
Q. You said out on the court in the interview on TV that following her comeback has been a great story. Could you explain why?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, because, you know, beginning of the year I suppose I guess we all thought she'd only be out for three months and it was another month and another month and then again. So it started to be like "when is Lindsay coming back." Even me as a competitor, I liked playing her. I had great matches against her. So it's been nice to see her come back and do so well. Not every one can do that, even I couldn't, I was losing the second round, and then the third round when I came back off sometime. And now look at her now, just a great story that's she's in the finals again.
Q. Crowd pulling for Daniela, did you feel that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Did you hear the crowd pulling for you or ---
VENUS WILLIAMS: I normally hear the crowd. At times I don't, but I am pulling for me. (Laughs).
Q. What do you expect from the match tomorrow?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think they love Lindsay here, so I guess I will be pulling for me again. Other than that, I think that she's going to probably come out there and just try to beat me, which you know, is what she has to do, and obviously I am going to be doing the same thing, that's summing up the whole match, that's summing up every match of my career.
Q. You have won 15 in a row here now. Do you feel you can't lose here or is it your home court?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I suppose so. I'd love to make it 16. But nothing is for granted. I am sure Lindsay would like to put that one mark on the losing side of the record.
Q. Why have you been able to beat her four times in a row? 7 out of 8 or something pretty high like that...It's 10-All overall but lately you have dominated her. Any reason for that?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Just to be honest, I got tired of losing to her. I mean, really. I was down like 1 and 18. If I lost another match I was going to retire. It had gotten to that point and I couldn't handle that anymore. So I proceeded to do something about it. Which was I guess the whole thing and other than that, I did become a better player also in the meantime. So I guess that helped a lot.
Q. Was that big turning point for you when you beat her again in the final for the first time? She had dominated the series between you; then you really went on a turning point against her?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I guess the turning point was at Wimbledon, I think she was up 9 and 3, still was pretty bad for me and I think that to me it didn't matter if it was 2 and 3 or 100 and 0, that was a Wimbledon final. I didn't care what the odds were against me. So maybe that was the turning point.
Q. What makes you a different player from the first time you won here in 1999 and now?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think back then I was just hoping that my opponent would make a mistake and I could win the point especially if I was playing someone really good. Now, I am more likely to make something happen, so I think that's the main difference.
Q. More aggressive today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I try to be, I think you have to know when to play aggressive and also when to play some defense or to play consistent. Hopefully I am doing all of those things at the right time.
Q. Do you think the key to tomorrow's final is going to be the serve?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, surely if I can serve well and she can serve well it's going to be a great match. Whoever holds serve the most, most likely will win. But definitely I think that will be a key because if my serve for some reason will go off, which I don't think it will, that could make the match a lot harder for me on my side and the same for her.