Q. You seemed frustrated at the end. Can you talk about your emotions at the end of the match?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, I was actually frustrated through most of the match. Just was difficult, when I knew I had the chance and I didn't take it. So that was what I was upset about.
Q. Did you feel from the beginning that you had a chance to beat her, just from the very beginning of the match? How did the match go for you, do you feel? Go set by set.
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Of course, I went out to the match thinking I could win. I do that before every match. The first set, we had quite a few momentum changes. I was a little bit lucky to pull it out there in the end. In the second set, I had a couple chances to break that I didn't convert. In the tiebreaker, you know, I just played too defensively. That was the problem. I had some chances and didn't go for it.
Q. It's been almost a year since the Fed Cup incident. That's a lot of time to pass under the bridge. Going into this match against Jennifer, what would you -- how would you describe your personal emotions about her and what do you think her emotions were about you, coming in here?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I don't feel any differently emotionally playing her or playing anyone else.
Q. I mean, personally, toward her.
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: That's what I'm saying. I don't have -- I don't feel personally different playing her than I do playing anybody else.
Q. Can you take some comfort from the fact that you are up there ready to be in the Top 10?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, of course I'm going to walk away from this tournament with a lot of positives. I played a great match the other night, played a good first couple of rounds. I just need to learn from it, you know. This is what it's all about, is having these experiences and learning from it and getting better every day.
Q. Tough call on that line in the last game at 15-love. You think that might have shook you at all in that final game?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: No. I mean, goes both ways. There's close calls both ways, so that has nothing to do with it.
Q. A style question, I guess, do you prefer to play somebody who you're going to have long, extended rallies with, like she did today, or do you prefer having an opportunity to win it sooner?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I think having the opportunity to win it sooner depends on how I'm playing. In tennis today, you have to step up and play aggressively to get a short ball, and that's what was my problem today. I was kind of waiting for things to happen. Playing against a great player like Jennifer, I've got to make it happen.
Q. There were a couple points where your serve was just dominant out there but you weren't able to carry it over in that first game of the third set. What happened in that game?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I think, you know, she came back out on the court in the beginning of the third set all fired up, played a couple really good points. I lowered my level a little bit. So just between those two factors, that was the break.
Q. Did that overhead you missed in the tiebreaker change things?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, I prefer not to think about that. Yeah, it was a little bit sloppy with my feet there. If I would have put a little more intensity, there's no way to miss that shot. But it happens. All I can do is laugh about that now. But I may have some bad dreams about that one.
Q. Were you in a position to angle that one off or were you not in a position to angle it the other way?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I was running kind of diagonally to the outside of the court. All I had to do was just put it right there. Can we change the subject (smiling).
Q. What are you going to do from here?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I'm going home now and I'm going to start again in Charleston.
Q. As you came to the net, it appeared as though Jennifer said -- made some short comment to you when you came to the net. Was it, "Nice work," or, "Nice game."
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: She said, "Tough match."
Q. Over three days, you played two of the three best players in women's tennis, even or better. When the smoke is cleared and you look back on this, this has to be a step forward for you in your career?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, I'm going to walk away from this tournament with a lot of positive thought in my mind, but I have a lot of room for improvement. That's the good thing. I feel like I have so many errors still to work on. I'm going to go home, do that, continue to work hard and it's just going to get better.
Q. What was that city just outside Tampa where you were living?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Valrico.
Q. Can you talk about the areas where you see improvement?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: A lot. I think, mentally, I've matured a lot in the last year. I'm learning to enjoy myself a little bit more, practicing and playing. Physically, I've gotten a lot stronger in the last two years. It's slowly, you know, it's all starting to come together. So I'm happy about that.
Q. Are you working on sort of your transition game, when you get a player into trouble, you're coming into the net. Is that an area where you had some chances that you weren't able to sort of take advantage of having a short ball?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, definitely, that's an area I'm working on. My instinct is to stay on the baseline a lot more. I'm trying to work on going forward a little more and finishing points at the net. That's a key thing I need to do to take it to the next level.
Q. On the business level, I went up to the stands and asked a lot of people about who you were, I took a poll of 30 people, someone said, "I heard of her, she's almost as good... Not quite good." People are saying they hope you break through, hope you win. With a win, there's a lot of tennis market on the fact that you have your ability and who you are, as a person. Do you feel this week will add to your endorsement value?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, definitely. I think playing in big tournaments like this, having big opportunities to play the best players and have victories is the best thing you can do. Like I said, I'm just going to -- that's not what I like to focus on. I just like to focus on myself and getting better every day and I know those type of things are going to come.
Q. What's your clay schedule?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I'm going home now for a week and then I'm going to start in Charleston, then go to Amelia. Then I have Fed Cup the week after that. Then I'm going to start in Europe, over in Berlin.
Q. Do you have the feeling that more players are starting to believe that they can beat Venus or Serena than before, they're working harder to achieve that?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Well, I wouldn't just specifically say Venus and Serena. I think more players are beginning to believe that they can beat the top players. The level is so close these days, it's really just a matter of who believes that they belong there. It's not always about tennis, it's usually not about tennis. It's who really believes that they're the best and who really believes that they're gonna win the match.
Q. Do you believe that you're up there already?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I do. I'm beginning to believe, and believing more and more every day. But I still have some hesitations and that's what showed today; in the tiebreaker there, I had a couple returns that I hesitated and just didn't go for it. But I believe a lot more now than I used to and it's getting more every day. It's something I'm working on and I know that when I do believe in myself 100 percent, and I know that is gonna happen, that that's when I'm going to reach my potential.
Q. Would you say your best stretch in this match was in the first set from 2-all, until the end of the set?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah. It's kind of a strange match. There were a lot of momentum changes, so it's hard to just pick out one part that was, you know, the best part of the match because there were so many changes.
Q. You were dictating a lot of points at that midpoint of the first set.
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, sure.
Q. Do you think there's sort of a gap between Venus and Serena as far as players thinking they can beat them? They were lumped together for a while. It seems to me now there's more belief that Venus is a little bit closer to everyone else. Serena still carries around that aura of invincibility.
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: That question keeps coming up every day. I wouldn't say that's true. Right now, Serena's playing better, she's having the better results. But Venus is capable of the same thing that Serena is, I believe. There's other players capable of the same thing. So I wouldn't -- they're playing better than everyone else right now, but I wouldn't put them at another level from everyone else.
Q. Billie Jean says you're ready to go for Fed Cup. Can you talk about why you're looking forward to it?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: I just love the opportunity to represent the US. I think that's such an honor. To be on a team like that is just great. I'm really excited. Last year, I had the opportunity to twice and I had a lot of fun with Billie Jean there. I don't think I've ever met anyone who loves the game more than her. We just spent a lot of hours on the court, just trying to get better. That's what it's all about.
Q. Billie Jean said that she came to Tempe, I guess, or Phoenix, to observe your physical program. She said she was exhausted from watching you. Was that very difficult to undertake in the first trials? It sounds very exhausting.
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: My physical program?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, for two years now I've been training at Athletes Performance in Tempe with Mark Verstegen. Like I say all the time, he's just pretty amazing. He's changed me entirely. I've gotten so much stronger and so much faster and more durable, everything. But I love it, you know. The physical aspect of it, for me, is not even an effort. I love to go to the gym and work out. It's something I've enjoyed doing since I was eight years old. So it's a lot of fun for me and I'll continue to do that.
Q. What exactly is in the Meghann training day diet?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Training day diet? I'm a pretty healthy eater. Little bit too much chocolate, but I watch what I eat and...
Q. Wasn't there a time where it was almost impossible for you to gain weight, even with 20 or 30 million shakes a day?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, putting on weight is hard for me. But I am, I'm putting on weight, working out quite a bit and putting on some muscle. So it's working.
Q. Could you just describe what is your typical training regimen? When you're going through that program in Tempe what are you doing on a typical day?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Well, it varies a lot. It depends on what part of the season it is, how much I'm training, how healthy I'm feeling. But typically, I'll go in there and spend a good four or five hours, you know. It's not four or five hours of just weights, but it's two or three hours of a lot of intense, all kinds of explosive work, weights, then it's an hour of stretching and all kinds of things to make sure I stay healthy. So it's a good half of my day when I'm there at home.
Q. Is there running or endurance? What do you do for endurance?
MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY: Yeah, we do a lot of -- monitor the heart rate while I'm working out to make sure that it keeps to improve (sic). Different, sometimes do the treadmill, sometimes versaclimber, sometimes I go outside and run. We just keep it a little bit of variety, keep it exciting.
Q. What was the difference there in the third set, do you think?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I think physically, I didn't get tired and maybe she did a little bit. I was able to break early on. I think that was a big factor there. Just I was able to stay aggressive and still move her around and mix up my shots and came to net. So I think I served well, too. I was just consistent in the third set.
Q. You had played her before. What were you expecting from the match, and is she playing differently now than she did earlier, when you guys played before?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, she served amazing. I mean, I always knew she had a good serve but she never, like, consistently just, you know, boom, boom, boom the serve. So it was very hard to break her. She's a great scrapper. She gets a lot of balls back. She was just, you know, more consistent than usual. So it's, you know, it was just longer rallies. So she's just -- you know, her forehand's always been big. But I guess her serve and her consistency...
Q. One of the keys to this match was the first game of the final set. You broke right away. What kind of attitude did you take on the court when that third set began?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, I just -- I had the momentum, because I just won the tiebreaker. So I just went off the court, took a shirt change and, you know, wanted to -- maybe she got a little bit cold there from taking the break, just didn't concentrate as well. I thought that would be the best chance, the best opportunity, to break early on like that. So I was fortunate enough to do that and consolidate it with my serve.
Q. I know confidence is one of the strengths of your game. You walk on the court thinking you can beat anybody, any time. Having said that, is there a different sense looking ahead, knowing you only have to beat one Williams sister the rest of the way, where, generally, you have one in your half of the bracket and one in the other half?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, I don't think that way at all. There's just so many other tough players. It's not like I'm beating everybody. So I've lost to Lindsay, I've lost to Henin. I'm not just thinking about them.
Q. You said after your last match you woke up that morning feeling you were in a groove. Was it like that for you today?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, for the most part. Maybe didn't sleep as well, but, yeah, for the most part everything felt, well -- good.
Q. What were you thinking at the end of the first set?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, that it's not over and I was able to come back from 5-2, and I just felt like I was getting a better rhythm. You know, she was winning a lot of the long rallies and she was kind of moving me around. Then I just picked up my level and started moving her around a bit and started serving better. So I just knew that, you know, the second set would just be different. I think it would be a lot closer, anyways.
Q. As far as you're concerned, what makes the Williams sisters so tough to beat? What is the most impressive when you face them?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I really don't want to talk about that right now.
Q. It's been about a year since the Fed Cup incident. Meghann had some remarks to make about you the day after she lost -- the day she lost to Barbara Schwartz. Is all that forgotten in your mind? Do you have some memories about that, that make you feel disappointed in her?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, it's water under the bridge. I mean, it's not worth it for something as silly as that. You know, just doesn't faze me one way or the other, so...
Q. What makes you so difficult?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Well, just like in today's match, I think, you know, I played a good scrapper, but I think, also, I get a lot of balls back. My movement, I think, is good. Not only that, I think I can execute my shots well and not just be a defensive player, but also come back with making winners also. I think I play smart, too and come to net well (smiling)... And do everything...
Q. Did she impress you this week, Meghann? Is she a better player than you thought?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, I always knew she was a good player. A lot of things going into it - mentally, physically, she's been injured. I think, mentally, she's been working on that because, you know, she stayed in there more, not really losing her concentration and sort of hitting a lot of errors. I watched her play against Venus, so I know she's beaten Venus before, so it's like, you know, just one of those players that you just play really good against and feel no pressure. So she's definitely talented.
Q. You decided not to warm up to the Outkast song again?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah.
Q. How come?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I guess it was just made into being a big deal. I just said, "Forget about it."
Q. What was your thinking behind choosing that song?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: No, I just -- I like the song. It's just to show my support. I think by listening to the song, you could say that I'm an American, so...
Q. U2 today, is that right?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. I didn't pick that, though.
Q. You just said, "Whatever" basically?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah.
Q. You've had some big matches here over the years where your serve has let you down late in the match. Today, you weren't broken in the final set. Have you been working particularly hard on your serve the last couple of months?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yes, I have.
Q. Can you give us some detail about that?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: I'm not going to, like, say my secrets or anything, but just I practice, you know, my shots, all my other shots so much during a day, during a practice session. I mean, why not, you know, I can't just go and practice my serve ten minutes, you know, when I'm practicing everything else for an hour, hour and a half, my ground strokes. So I'm just putting more time into practicing my serve and just -- so it just becomes automatic instead of me just, you know, getting in that situation and just getting off rhythm, just thinking about it. So I just get so I can just go through the motion if I'm practicing it so much.
Q. Have you tried to slow down also? You always liked to play very, very quickly.
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, little bit.
Q. Five straight holds down the stretch. Most of them pretty easy. How much satisfaction is there in that particular aspect of the game?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: A lot, because, you know, 5-4, I remember other matches where I've been up like that, serving for it, and I've lost it and lost the match. So, you know, I'm proud of myself for coming through on that point.
Q. You seem happy, you actually seem to be enjoying answering questions?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Why wouldn't I (smiling)?
Q. We've seen you even after a win sometimes, are you in a particularly good mood this week? Are you having a good time at this tournament?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah, I came off a great win for myself, so I'm pretty happy about that. Yeah, I mean, I got my whole family here and just the crowd has been great. I feel great. I'm happy that, you know, I got over my injury last week and I was a little bit nervous about that. But, yeah, I've just been playing well and... But besides just playing well, just in general, yeah, I feel good about myself.
Q. Is Steven your hitting partner this week?
JENNIFER CAPRIATI: Yeah. He's been the last couple weeks and he will travel with me during the summer.
Q. With respect to what happened last year, are you looking forward to possibly being slighted by Billie Jean King during Fed Cup?
Capriati Outlasts Shaughnessy In Nasdaq-100 Quarterfinals
By Richard Pagliaro
Springing into the court with short, sharp steps, Jennifer Capriati swiftly sprinted to her left, unleashed a lethal forehand winner down the line and pumped her clenched fist in fury. For two and a half hours, Capriati and Meghann Shaughnessy traded baseline blows in a frenzied fight that spanned all sections of the court. As she watched the winner bring her to match point, a combative Capriati was committed to completing the quarterfinal conquest. After spending a large part of the first set on her heels, Capriati concluded a captivating victory on her toes. Racing into the court behind another deep forehand, Capriati punched a forehand volley winner crosscourt to clinch a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over Shaughnessy at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami today. The sixth-seeded Capriati secured a spot in her second straight semifinal where she will meet either fourth-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne or 12th-seeded Chanda Rubin.
Still seeking her first tournament title since she successfully defended her crown at the 2002 Australian Open 14 months ago, Capriati has produced her best tennis of the season in recent weeks. She reached the Indian Wells semifinal before falling to Lindsay Davenport and dug down deep to rally for a grueling victory over Shaughnessy today. The 23rd-seeded Shaughnessy entered the match winless in her six career meetings with Capriati. Empowered by her straight set victory over second-seeded Venus Williams in the fourth round, Shaughnessy was broken in her opening service game today. But the slender Shaughnessy, whose rigorous workout regimen has seen her add about 10 pounds of muscle to her 5-foot-11 frame, showed some mental strength in winning five consecutive games to seize a 5-2 lead. Saving three set points, Capriati closed to 4-5 and had break-point chances to even the first set.
But Shaughnessy struck back with a pair of service winners and on her fourth match point she followed a strong serve into the net where she smashed an overhead winner to take the set, 6-4. It was only the second set Shaughnessy had ever won against Capriati, who didn't take the first-set loss lightly. Rallying with rage, Capriati opened a 5-3 second-set lead before Shaughnessy responded to eventually force the tiebreak. Beneath the escalating tiebreak tension, Shaughnessy's first-set aggression subsided a bit as she competed cautiously as if waiting for a key Capriati error that never came. When Shaughnessy blew an easy overhead by blasting the ball long, it gave Capriati the mini-break she needed to seal the second set. Throughout much of the match, Shaughnessy's serve was her key stroke. She slammed nine aces and won 44 of 56 (79 percent) of her first-serve points. But she dropped serve in the opening game of the decisive set and Capriati consolidated the break by holding for a 2-0 lead.
Capriati's decision to take a little bit off her first serve in pursuit of a higher percentage paid dividends under pressure as she connected on 68 percent of her first serves in the final set and won 14 of her 16 first serve points. In contrast, Shaughnessy, already burdened by playing catch-up, served 48 percent in the final set, allowing Capriati to attack her second serves.
Putting on a happy face
Win over Shaughnessy has Capriati smiling
BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN
Jennifer Capriati's infectious smile that charmed the tennis world 13 years ago seeped through after Wednesday's hard-fought win over Meghann Shaughnessy in the NASDAQ-100 Open -- a change from the Capriati of late, whose mood typically has ranged from indifferent to sour. But there she was on Stadium Court, after a 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory, jumping up and down, pumping her fist, her pearly whites beaming from her tanned face. Even more unusual, she seemed to almost enjoy -- well, at least not detest -- her postmatch news conference. Told she seems happier than usual, she smiled and replied: ``Why wouldn't I? I came off a great win for myself, so I'm pretty happy about that. I got my whole family here and the crowd has been great. I feel great. But besides just playing well, just in general, I feel good about myself.'' She was in such a good mood, she didn't even bristle at two semi-controversial questions.
Unheralded American Shaughnessy was hoping to knock off a heavy favorite for the second match in a row. She raised eyebrows after eliminating No. 2 Venus Williams in straight sets. Shaughnessy was still very much in the match against Capriati after two sets, but Capriati got a boost of energy during the shirt change and won eight of the first nine points of the third set to swing the momentum to her side of the court. The match had a few sensational rallies of 18 and 20 points, but also a slew of unforced errors -- 48 for Shaughnessy and 41 for Capriati. Both players fumed after slamming easy overhead shots into the net. ''I was frustrated through most of the match,'' Shaughnessy said. ``It was difficult when I knew I had the chance and didn't take it. . . . But I'm beginning to believe more and more every day that I belong up there [with the best players]. But I still have some hesitations and that's what showed today.''
Capriati, who had lost only one set to Shaughnessy in six previous meetings, noted marked improvement in her opponent's game. ''She served amazing,'' Capriati said. ``I always knew she had a good serve, but she never consistently just boom, boom, boomed the serve. So it was very hard to break her. She's a great scrapper, gets a lot of balls back. She was more consistent than usual.'' Today's semifinal is Capriati's third of the year after a miserable January in which she lost in the first round at Sydney and the Australian Open, becoming the first women's defending champion to bow out so early. She was so disgusted with herself she withdrew from Tokyo. But things turned around in February, at Dubai and Indian Wells, where she reached semifinals before losing to Henin-Hardenne and Lindsay Davenport. Capriati was so chipper Wednesday, she addressed two issues she might not have a month ago.
Asked whether she harbored any ill will toward Shaughnessy, who last summer publicly sided with Fed Cup coach Billie Jean King when King kicked Capriati off the team, Capriati answered: ``No, it's water under the bridge.'' When a reporter asked about her decision not to once again warm up to an Outkast song called Bombs over Baghdad, she said: 'I guess it was just made into a big deal, so I said, `Forget about it.' I just like the song and was showing my support [for the U.S. troops].'' The only topic Capriati refused to talk about was the Williams sisters. She would rather deal with that topic in the final.
KEY BISCAYNE -- It was just about one year ago, after Jennifer Capriati had been kicked off the Fed Cup team by U.S. captain Billie Jean King, that Meghann Shaughnessy unleashed her candor. "I'd like to ask her why she didn't want to follow the team and if it was worth it," Shaughnessy said after filling in for Capriati against Austria and losing to Barbara Schwartz. "I agree with the decision [to dismiss her from the team]." And a few minutes later, there was this from Shaughnessy: "The bottom line is that when we came here, there was a set of rules for each player. It was Jennifer's decision not to follow one of them. That's her decision, and that's fine. But if she's going to make that decision, she needs to know there are consequences." Capriati and Shaughnessy will play each other today for a spot in the women's semifinals, and those remarks may be fresh in Capriati's mind.
This will be the seventh match between these women, and it hasn't been good for Shaughnessy, who has won only one set, in Philadelphia in 2000. But perhaps this is the new Shaughnessy -- stronger, more aggressive and brimming with confidence after stunning No. 2 seed Venus Williams on Monday night. There has never been a Shaughnessy publicity machine, but neither has she shrunk from tackling questions or issues head-on. When asked what she was thinking as she let slip eight match points in the Williams match, she replied: "You don't want to know what was going through my mind. Was a little bit nervous, didn't go for a couple of shots." It has been a long and often lonely trip for the No. 23 seed, from obscurity to this latest flirtation with the elite level of the WTA tour. She has always gone her way, from moving in with her coach and fiance, Rafael Font de Mora, before she was 18 to her battles with the USTA over coaching and financial assistance.
In 1996, Font de Mora became so incensed that he left a three-page news release on the desk of a number of reporters at the U.S. Open, detailing his unhappiness with the USTA. For a long time, Shaughnessy couldn't put on weight. Font de Mora created the Meghann Perfect Training Day diet, a concoction of carbohydrates, protein and supplements. Often running her career on a shoestring, she struck a deal with Adidas, her clothing sponsor, that got her a discount into the $50,000-a-year Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz., and began muscling up. Despite a steady rise from No. 187 in 1996 to No. 12 in 2001, she seemed unable to win critical matches at Grand Slams. Last year, she lost to Marlene Weingartner at Australia, Conchita Martinez Granados at the French, and Miriam Oremans at Wimbledon. In 2001, the year she made a move on the top 10, she was having a sensational year when she was derailed in the third round of the U.S. Open by Daja Bedanova.
This year, she made the quarters at a Grand Slam (Australia) for the first time.
KEY BISCAYNE -- Two hours and 30 minutes into this piece of tennis magic Wednesday afternoon, Jennifer Capriati and Meghann Shaughnessy rose from their changeover chairs for the final game and produced a 33-stroke opening point that put a final exclamation mark on the best match of the Nasdaq-100 Open. Capriati won the point and the day, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, turning back the woman who had conquered Venus Williams in the round of 16 to go into today's semifinal against Chanda Rubin. One more win and Capriati, after two consecutive runner-up finishes on Key Biscayne, will be playing for the title again on Saturday -- this time on her 27th birthday. When she entered the interview room to talk about this tantalizingly close victory, her hair was a tangle from a well-deserved shower and the grimace that had dominated her face throughout a succession of interminably long rallies had been replaced by a wide smile.
"Good ... happy," she said, reflecting her emotions after putting this one away with some of her best clutch serving in a long time. Capriati's once-shaky serve has a lengthy history of disintegration at critical stages of big matches. But not this time and not after the increased work she has put in this year. She got 67 percent of her first serves in, won 14 of 16 first-serve points and never let Shaughnessy get closer than 30-all. "I can't just go and practice my serve 10 minutes when I'm practicing everything else for an hour, or an hour and a half," said Capriati. "So I'm just putting more time into my serve and it just becomes automatic instead of me getting off rhythm, just thinking about it." Capriati will scarcely have time to daydream about the electricity she generated in this performance. At 7 p.m., she'll play Rubin, the No. 12 seed who defeated No. 4 Justine Henin-Hardenne, 6-3, 6-2. At noon, top-seeded Serena Williams faces No. 3 Kim Clijsters in the other semi.
If there is any bad blood remaining between Capriati and Shaughnessy from last year's controversial Fed Cup tie against Austria, it wasn't evident. Nor did the players express any animosity toward each other after the match. In fact, as Shaughnessy approached the net to shake hands with her conqueror, Capriati told her, with obvious sympathy, "Tough match." "Water under the bridge," Capriati replied when asked if she's harboring any ill feeling toward Shaughnessy. "I mean, it's not worth it for something as silly as that. It just doesn't faze me one way or the other." It didn't hurt that Arlen Kantarian, the chief executive of the U.S. Open, had met with both Shaughnessy and Capriati's father, Stefano, two days earlier to urge them to put the incident behind them. Shaughnessy had been called on to replace Capriati at April's Fed Cup match against Austria after Capriati was kicked off the team by captain Billie Jean King for violating team rules.
Shaughnessy was upset by Barbara Schwartz, then made some pointed remarks about Capriati's behavior. "The bottom line is that when we came here, there was a set of rules," Shaughnessy said then. "It was Jennifer's decision not to follow one of them. That's her decision, and that's fine. But if she's going to make that decision, she needs to know there are consequences." Capriati and Shaughnessy put on a wonderful show with a raft of deuce games and long rally after long rally. The last three games of the first set went to deuce and there were seven deuces in the ninth game, which Capriati won. On Shaughnessy's fourth set point, she sent a 105 mph serve to the corner on the ad side and following Capriati's weak return slammed a winner. Capriati finally broke to go up 5-3 in the second set, but not before she began huffing around the court. At one point, she slapped a ball into the green curtain behind the baseline in frustration. After another poor shot she dropped her racket in disgust.
Shaughnessy broke back and they fought into a tiebreak, where Shaughnessy made a horrendous error. With Capriati serving at 4-3, she had a sitter for an easy volley, raced in and overhit it past the baseline. Capriati returned the favor serving for the set at 6-4 when she gaffed an easy volley that left her banging her strings against her forehead. But she finally capped off the tiebreak, and after a bathroom break came out breathing fire in the final set. "I took a shirt change and maybe she got a little bit cold, just didn't concentrate as well," Capriati said. "I thought that would be my best opportunity, to break early on like that. So I was fortunate to do that and consolidate it with my serve." Shaughnessy will be back in the top 20. She's probably on Capriati's personal top five list after Wednesday.
Charles Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dave George, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 27, 2003
KEY BISCAYNE -- It was a lot closer this time, three sets with a tense tiebreaker in the middle, but Jennifer Capriati continued her dominance over Meghann Shaughnessy on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the Nasdaq-100 Open. Shaughnessy, who on Monday eliminated No. 2 seed Venus Williams from the tournament, is 0-7 in career matches against Capriati. She kept it going for 2 hours, 34 minutes Wednesday, eventually losing 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 and whistling past autograph seekers toward the locker room without even breaking stride. It was the second-set tiebreaker, won 7-5 by Capriati, where Shaughnessy said she blew her chance for the upset. "In the tiebreaker I just played too defensively," said Shaughnessy, who had eight aces. "That was the problem." It never will be for Capriati. She fought hard throughout, going for winners at every opportunity and barking at linesmen when the calls didn't go her way. If there was any letup at all, it was in Capriati's milder choice of warm-up music.
She took the court for her previous match to Bombs Over Baghdad by a group called Outkast. "She served amazing," Capriati said. "I always knew she had a good serve, but she never, like, boom, boom, boomed the serve. It was very hard to break her."
Shaughnessy's Magic Touch Missing Against Capriati
Wed March 26, 2003 05:57 PM ET
By Richard Luscombe
MIAMI, Florida (Reuters) -- The magic touch that saw Meghann Shaughnessy surprise three times champion Venus Williams in the fourth round deserted her as Jennifer Capriati moved into the semi-finals of the Nasdaq-100 Open on Wednesday. Shaughnessy, who impressed in her straight sets upset of the second-seeded world number two on Monday, lost 4-6 7-6 6-4 to fellow American Capriati in a quarter-final blighted by errors. Capriati made 41 unforced errors in a tame victory that saw the number six seed drop only her second set in seven meetings with Shaughnessy, who made 48 during the two hours 34 minutes of a match that took until the sixth game to finally get going. The best moments came in a series of lengthy rallies late in the first set and in particular in the ninth game, which saw Capriati, the runner-up in the last two years, save four set points and finally hold serve after seven deuces.
Shaughnessy sent down a number of unbeatable first serves but struggled on her second, allowing Capriati a foothold back into the match before stepping up the pace in the final set. The highlights were outweighed by the errors. Both players regularly sent returns long, wide or into the net and in the second-set tiebreak they missed easy volleys into an open court that would have given each a mini-break. "I didn't get tired and maybe she did," Capriati said. "I was able to break early in the final set, stay aggressive, move around and mix up my shots. She's a scrapper, and she served amazingly but never consistently. "I was thinking at the end of the first set that the match wasn't over. I started serving better and I just knew the second set would be closer." Shaughnessy said: "In tennis you have to step up aggressively and make it happen, and that was my problem today. "The first set had a few momentum changes and in the second I had a few chances to break that I didn't convert.
"I have so many areas still to work on but I will walk away from this tournament with a lot of positives. I played a great match the other night, and I have to learn from it."
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) -- Flirting with defeat, Jennifer Capriati buried an easy overhead into the net, then angrily stomped back to the baseline, where she smacked her forehead with the sweet spot in her racket strings: one, two, three, four times. Having vented, Capriati got back to business. She wasn't perfect, but she was good enough to overcome a formidable effort by Meghann Shaughnessy, whose bid for a second consecutive upset fell just short Wednesday at the Nasdaq-100 Open. Capriati rallied to earn a berth in the semifinals, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4. She put away a volley on match point, happily hopped up and down and then leaned on the net cord, exhausted after the 2 1/2-hour endurance test. Since commencing a career comeback in 2001, Capriati has developed a reputation for crankiness, but her after latest victory she was all smiles. "A great win for myself, so I'm pretty happy about that," she said. "But besides just playing well, just in general, yeah, I feel good about myself."
Left to stew was Shaughnessy, who eliminated three-time champion Venus Williams in the fourth round but lost too many pivotal points against Capriati. "I was actually frustrated through most of the match," said Shaughnessy, seeded No. 23. "I had the chance and didn't take it." Besides notching a narrow victory, Capriati defused a couple of minor controversies. She said she didn't hold a grudge about comments Shaughnessy made last year after Capriati was dismissed from the U.S. Fed Cup team last year. And she decided not to have the Outkast song "Bombs Over Baghdad" played in the stadium during her warmup after her choice of the rap tune for her previous match drew considerable publicity. "It was just made into being a big deal," she said. "I just said, `Forget about it.'" Instead, U2's inspirational "Walk On" accompanied Capriati's warmup against Shaughnessy.
When Capriati was kicked off the Fed Cup team last year in a bitter dispute over practice rules, an outspoken Shaughnessy sided with U.S. captain Billie Jean King. But Capriati and Shaughnessy shook hands after their match and showed no hint of lingering hard feelings. "Water under the bridge," Capriati said. Said Shaughnessy: "I don't feel personally different playing her than I do playing anybody else." And then there was the tennis. The slender Shaughnessy has bulked up 15 pounds in the past two years thanks to a vigorous training program, and she proved strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the muscular Capriati in long baseline rallies. There were moments of brilliance, but also plenty of erratic shots. Shaughnessy committed 48 unforced errors to Capriati's 41, which meant lots of missed chances and close games. One game lasted 20 points and another 18, and after two sets each player had won 84 points.
There was even a tie in blown overheads: Capriati's missed shot came in the tiebreaker, but Shaughnessy bungled one herself on the previous point. When Shaughnessy dumped a backhand in the net to lose the tiebreaker, Capriati skipped off the court and went to the locker room to change shirts. Refreshed, she won eight of the next nine points to take charge of the final set. Capriati held her final five service games. Leading 5-4, she closed out the final game at love. "I remember other matches where I've been up like that, serving for it, and I've lost it and lost the match," she said. "So I'm proud of myself for coming through at that point."
Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.