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tennisIlove09
Nov 6th, 2003, 07:40 PM
Capriati already looking ahead to next year

By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
November 6, 2003

AP - Nov 6, 2:16 am EST
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jennifer Capriati is in the hunt for the $1 million winner's check in the WTA Championships, yet she's just about ready to write off 2003.

It's been a disappointing year by her standards, especially in the Grand Slam tournaments. She lost in the first round of the Australian Open as the defending champion; lost in the fourth round of the French Open; reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon; and ran into more problems in the U.S. Open.

Capriati was two points from winning her semifinal against Justine Henin-Hardenne 10 times, only to lose the match that lasted into the wee hours.

She's only played twice since that fateful September evening, losing in the second round in Moscow and the first round in Filderstadt, Germany.

``The main thing is just for me to try to play my best and have some fun here. It would be nice to do well, but I don't have any really big expectations,'' she said.

Capriati got a big challenge in her first match in the season-ending championships. She fought off four set points and defeated Ai Sugiyama 7-5, 7-6 (3) in round-robin play Wednesday night.

She'll have Thursday off, giving her time to rest a strained right hip flexor that required treatment during the match.

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``In practice I sort of felt something already, but I haven't been playing indoors and just not playing a lot of matches,'' Capriati said. ``I served really well when I had to and it definitely saved me in the match.''

Capriati lost to Serena Williams in the semifinals last year. Venus and Serena Williams, and Lindsay Davenport, are skipping the tournament because of injuries.

Capriati and Chanda Rubin are the only Americans in the eight-player field, but Capriati said she feels no pressure because most of the attention is on the race for No. 1 between Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters.

``It's coming down to the end and my focus is on doing well for the next year,'' Capriati said. ``It's not going to make me or break me by how I do in this tournament. This will just be a good push off for next year.''

Clijsters, the defending champion and current No. 1, defeated Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-2 in a match that ended just before midnight.

``I'm sure I'll be over my jet lag now,'' said Clijsters, who had been going to sleep about 9 p.m. and waking up at 5 a.m. since arriving from Belgium last weekend.

Clijsters will face Rubin on Thursday, and No. 2 Henin-Hardenne opens play against Anastasia Myskina. Dementieva will play Amelie Mauresmo, who lost to Rubin 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Clijsters was aggressive from the start against Dementieva, the 22-year-old Russian who lost in the first round of the championships the previous two years when it was a single-elimination format.

``I was really consistent,'' Clijsters said. ``I didn't have a moment where I was down, where I was giving her easy mistakes.''

Rubin rallied from a set and a service break down to beat Mauresmo.

Rubin, ranked No. 10, got into the eight-player tournament when Venus Williams withdrew.

The top two players in the Red and Black groups will advance to Sunday's semifinals.

The opening night of play drew an announced crowd of 5,281 at a tournament that struggled a year ago in its first time at Staples Center.

Trish101
Nov 7th, 2003, 01:08 AM
thats pretty sad, only 6,000 fans? wow that place can seat close to 25,000....not good at all. nice article though