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GogoGirl
Nov 9th, 2002, 11:05 PM
I must admit - I was pulling for Jennifer.

Now bring on Ms. PUMA - and let the first ball be struck. Here's hoping for a great match if it's like that.

Congrats to Jen. This was a strong win in her column.




http://msn.espn.go.com/tennis/s/2002/1108/1457840.html

Friday, November 8
Updated: November 9, 1:09 PM ET

Capriati still seeking wisdom to win

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Joel Drucker
Special to ESPN.com


"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" -- Satchel Paige

LOS ANGELES -- Technically, Jennifer Capriati is 26. Temperamentally, she defies time.


Jennifer Capriati complains about crowd noise in the mostly empty Staples Center on Thursday night.


Where else but in an individual sport like tennis could someone go from ingénue to outcast to champion? Just a little over a year ago, arriving at Wimbledon with the Australian and French titles in hand, Capriati was the belle of the ball, tenderly announcing, "I feel as if I've been reincarnated." It was the feel-good fable of 2001. During her exile years, the burned-out Capriati had been cited as a showcase example of all that was wrong with tennis. In victory, she had saved tennis for its sins.

Capriati's 2001 had all the merriment of an early Beatles album (think: Hard Day's Night). This year has been a colossal bummer (The White Album). Yes, Capriati defended her Australian Open title, playing gritty tennis to overcome four match points versus Martina Hingis. But it was there the pressure began to show once again.

Flustered in the second set, distraught at the umpire, Capriati blurted to a worldwide audience, "Get the (expletive) supervisor." What was most disturbing was that this twitfit went completely unchecked by the umpire or WTA Tour officials. Like Jimmy Connors, Capriati entered her demagogue phase, rousing the crowd, daring those that had feasted on her carcass to pay for their exploitation. They blinked.

The tone for the year was set. In April, came a nasty discord between Capriati and unblinking Billie Jean King on the eve of a Fed Cup tie that resulted in Capriati being thrown off the team. Later in the spring, Capriati lost two painfully close matches to Serena Williams at the Italian and French Open. This summer she went out in the quarters of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to a tactically-adroit Amelie Mauresmo, who this fall leapfrogged past Capriati in the rankings to number three. The Australian Open remains her only title of 2002. All throughout the year, there have been tales of Capriati repeatedly whining on the court, and complaining to others off it.

“ It hasn't been the whole up-and-up year [that 2001 was], but, still, you know, I do enjoy myself and I enjoy the challenge. Who knows? Next year it could be a comeback from this year. Maybe that's what I need. Maybe I do it on purpose. ”
— Jennifer Capriati

So here she is at the season-ending WTA championships with one last chance to improve her year. Wednesday night she grubbed her way through an opening-round 7-5, 6-1 victory against Silvia Farina Elia. Like most Capriati matches, it wasn't elegant, punctuated by misfires from the ground and sporadic serving. Yet the concussive quality of her game asserted itself. And as seen over the past two years, Capriati's speed has improved tremendously. Her work ethic appears better than ever.

But the question remains: Having proven herself Slam-worthy, is Capriati a victim of the Peggy Lee Syndrome? Lee, if you don't know, is renowned for the song, "Is That All There Is?" Couple this lament with Satchel Paige's query and Capriati this year has been one weary camper.

"There have been a few more losses and a little more pressure, and it's been disappointing," Capriati said Thursday night about her 2002 campaign. "It hasn't been the whole up-and-up year [that 2001 was], but, still, you know, I do enjoy myself and I enjoy the challenge. Who knows? Next year it could be a comeback from this year. Maybe that's what I need. Maybe I do it on purpose."

Welcome to the contemporary Capriati, slouching toward introspection, albeit lacking the sage-like commentary of an Andre Agassi or the existential angst of a Boris Becker.

Echoing the woes of these two, Capriati said, "It's very tough to figure out how to stay on top once you get on top, and, you know, I think I still have to go through a few trials on how to figure it out and get it right. ... So if I get there again, we'll see how I can handle it. It's not like I'm that far behind. I'm not ranked 100 in the world. I'm still pretty up there."

What's clear through this is Capriati prefers laying low to grabbing headlines. Perhaps the demands of being tennis' queen caused an implosion. After all, she's had her fill of the good, the bad and the ugly in the exposure racket. Capriati is always quick to blame the media for her historic woes and continues to make it difficult to get time with her beyond perfunctory matters. She speaks repeatedly of not wanting to have pressure placed on her, and in numerous tight matches throughout her career has dashed through it all so quickly you'd think she was ready to quit the sport once and for all. Thanks for nothing, dad. Hello, I'm out of here.

And yet in the heat of battle, backed into a corner, her fighting spirit surfaces in some sort of passive-aggressive relationship to her anger. To hell with all of you, I'm going to bury the ball. Moment to moment, Capriati has the game to win more Slams.

Over the long haul, though, does she want to make all the tactical and technical improvements necessary to stage another run for big bounty? Her haste when serving is a complete sign that she's uncomfortable on the court. Then again, maybe if you've been family the meal ticket since your early teens, maybe you'd want to stop, smell the roses away from the court and try to sort out all that those many years that have both given and taken so much.

Pretty rough to tell how many candles to put on Capriati's cake.

Joel Drucker, technical editor of Tennis for Dummies, is covering the WTA Championships for ESPN.com. E-mail him at JDruck@aol.com.

Bright Red
Nov 10th, 2002, 01:02 AM
Jennifer is definitely speaking from experience. Since her fall from the top spot, she has not managed to win, if any, tournaments.

Because I hadn't seen her in so long, I wanted to root for her today, but in the end, I found myself rooting for Maggie. Jen, with all of her gripiness about noise in an empty stadium, and her on-court antics, has simply gone way way overboard IMO.

vs1
Nov 10th, 2002, 01:42 AM
Funny...I don't remember Amelie taking over the number three spot!

I was at the Jenn-Maggie game today in LA. The stadium was half full and during the second set, there was some noise from some kids in the VIP box and Jenn complained to the umpire about it. But then again, if it's a distraction then it's a distraction. I personally think athletes need to deal with it and block it out (how loud are basketball and baseball games?!) but to each their own.

GogoGirl
Nov 10th, 2002, 04:20 PM
I agree w/Jen that it is hard to stay at the top of the rankings/charts and ones’ game these days. And she should know. She has been there and done that twice now. She had lost her way – but like she states in the below article – if she wins the last big one of the year – then IHO – her year will have been great. Can anybody disagree w/her perception of things? I say she should do whatever is needed to pump herself up to perform well.

Winners find a way to win. And that is what V&S are doing. Winning. One day – they won’t be winning all the time – for they are not perfect. There are soooo many factors to be considered in the entire puzzle of playing and winning tennis matches.

That being said – can Jen beat Serena today? Yes! Yes she can. They match up well together – and if Jen brings the same will and determination she started the year off with – she may prevail. My heartstring is pulled by Serena in this one – yet if Jen wins – she is to be congratulated. We shall see.

Meanwhile – bring it on.

I’ll have to give Jelena, Maggie and all the players that showed up for this tourney - their props for a great effort in trying to do well and reach the top 5/10/16 in 2002. Even though some are saying they’re tired by this point of the season – they should be proud that they made it this far – and they should be commended. When one really looks at it – one has to admit, that these ladies deserve more props and credit than they’ve been receiving. Here they are clawing – pawing and gnawing their way to the top – trying to reach the top 16 in the world and higher – and let alone the entertainment they provide – so they and the WTA officials should be pleased w/the way the players performed – IMO.

Maybe the PsTB can do a playoff type thing between the players that lose at this end of the year tourney. They can have the two losing semi-finalists play each other for more money and bonus points and third place. I wonder if the players would agree to such a thing?

I am glad the Sisters are getting some fan support at this tourney. Leave it to LA though. They are from there – and have many friends and family in town – so it was good to see some of them show up for the girlz. The crowd appreciates all the players it would seem – and that is just as it should be – IMO.

“WAY TO GO – VENUS – WAY TO GO” “WAY TO GO – SERENA – WAY TO GO” “LET’S GO CAMP WILLIAMS” “LET’S GO KIM & JENNIFER”




http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/11/10/1036308578554.html

Serena 'fails' Dokic test, but bring on Capriati
November 11 2002




Jelena Dokic returns a backhand during her quarter final 7-6 7-1 6-0 loss to top-seeded US player Serena Williams, at the WTA Championships in Los Angeles. Photo: AFP


Serena Williams didn't give herself a passing grade, but she did enough to get past a hobbled Jelena Dokic 7-6 (7-1), 6-0 on Saturday and reach the semi-finals of the $US3 million ($5.1 million) WTA Tour Championships.

The world No 1 and defending champion trailed 4-1 in an error-strewn first set, but hung on to force the tie-breaker, in which she made no mistakes.

Once she nabbed the first set, it was all over for Dokic, who said she was hampered by a painful sprained ankle that almost prompted her to withdraw from the elite season finale.

"I knew she had a problem, but I didn't know what her problem was," Williams said.

Dokic said she hurt her right ankle practising early in the week. "I wasn't even sure I would play the first [match]," she said.


"But I did enough in that match. Against Serena, you have to be 100 per cent."

Dokic gave up her serve with a double-fault in the second game of the second set, and hooked a forehand wide to give Williams another break in the fourth game. Williams broke her to love to close out the match in 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Despite the victory Williams found plenty to fault in her own performance. "I was just making too many errors, I wasn't attacking my shots, I was letting her dictate," she said of the first set.

Asked to grade herself, she said: "I didn't pass tonight, unfortunately."

The good news, Williams said, was "it's over and done with".

Next up is third-seeded American Jennifer Capriati, whose last tournament title came at the Australian Open in January. Capriati defeated unseeded Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. The match included 14 breaks of serve.

Capriati survived a shaky service game that included eight double faults, but said that even after she dropped her serve in the 10th game to surrender the second set she didn't feel she was in danger.


"I think that second set I just let get away," she said. "But I felt like I was pretty much in control the whole match."

Maleeva pleaded fatigue, sounding the common refrain for an event which is supposed to be the season's sparkling finale but instead has appeared at times as a parade of walking wounded.

"OK, I'm going to say the same thing as everyone else," Maleeva said. "I'm really tired. I don't have any speed in my arm, it was gone. I didn't get pumped up.

"It's like the aggression is gone. I'm usually much more vocal, and I would encourage myself more, and when this is gone it's not the same tennis."

Capriati, who won just one of four matches in the European indoor season, said her very lack of success there may be helping her here.

Capriati is hoping to close out the season the way she started it. "Winning the first one and winning the last one, who cares what happens in between?" she said with a laugh.

In the second semi-final, world No 2 and second seed Venus Williams takes on fifth-seeded Belgian Kim Clijsters.

AFP

joaco
Nov 10th, 2002, 05:39 PM
nice articles, thanks!

Freefall
Nov 10th, 2002, 06:34 PM
There's a BIG difference between a Team sport & One on One sports. Just a few weeks ago, Tiger ripped the heads off some camera people (as he has every right to) because they were taking photo's right when he was swinging. If people could yell & scream everytime someone hits the ball, Tiger & the other golfers would be scoring in the 100's & you'd always have error filled Tennis.

It does have a bad effect on team sports too, but in team sports the League & owners want the fans to feel like they're part of the team & it's ok for them to try & mess with the away team, to help the home team. It gets the fans more into it, making the league more money & if the fans are smart, they'll only scream when it hurts the enemy team.

TSequoia01
Nov 10th, 2002, 07:05 PM
I was watching the "Best Damn Sports Show" when they had Richard as a guest. He indicated that both ladies had did little to prepare for the Championship. It is really showing in Serena's play. I am beginning to wonder if she bothered to pick up a racquet at all during that month. It was the same thing after Wimbledon and contributed mightily to her loss to Chanda. All players should have some downtime but start getting ready at least a week before. The Princess is so awesome that she is still winning. But Jennifer does have a good chance against Serena today. :cool: