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CC
Feb 15th, 2002, 01:28 AM
Capriati Conquers Doubt To Claim Second Straight Australian Open


By Richard Pagliaro
02/14/2002

The conditions on court were as sweltering as a steam room during the Australian Open women's final. Waiting to receive serve, Jennifer Capriati rhythmically rocked on her toes as if moving to music playing in her mind. Moving to her own musical muse, Capriati proved she was no one-hit wonder by producing a successful Slam sequel performance.




Playing tenacious tennis under pressure, the top-seeded Capriati turned in a timeless performance, fighting off a record four match points to stage a remarkable rally and capture her second consecutive Australian Open crown with a 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 triumph over six-time finalist Martina Hingis.

In a conference call with the media today, Capriati said defending her title was even more difficult than winning her first Australian Open crown.

"I think it's almost harder than winning the first one," Capriati said. "Just to come back and win it again with all the things going on in your mind and the struggles you put yourself through, it's a lot more difficult. It's like you don't want to be remembered for one song. I just definitely was making a statement saying I'm for real and for myself it's just another obstacle and hurdle that I've gone over. It was a challenge that I rose above it."

As the temperatures on court soared to more than 100 degrees, sweat cascaded off Capriati's body forming small pools that looked like the remains of Frosty the Snowman after an extended stay in the sauna. Years spent living in Florida combined with a rigorous training regimen that ranged from weight-lifting to kick boxing to Pilates, helped Capriati withstand the heat that sapped the strength of the slighter Hingis.

"Living here (in Florida) for the past 15 years of my life probably helped," Capriati said. "I know I'm a pretty strong girl. I know my limits and when I've reached my absolute maximum. I was pretty close that day, but wouldn't say I was right there. I had a lot in reserve. You look at my body type and you could see that maybe I'm bigger and stronger physically than Martina. I still had a lot in reserve whereas maybe someone like Martina, she just ran out of gas. I'm kind of a big girl and I had more to give."

Capriati came up big in the final, but it took a series of small steps for her to face her toughest opponent herself. Facing the fear-factor inherent in defending a Grand Slam title, Capriati channeled her emotions into her play to defeat the feelings of self-doubt and dismiss disappointment by defending her title.

"I was just kind of scared about it (defending her title) in the beginning and kind of nervous going over there," Capriati said. "If I didn't have kind of a scared feeling that wouldn't be normal. I don't want to disappoint myself. I played every match not thinking about other stuff and that got me all the way through. It was very important (to win) it just kind of relieved the pressure a little bit."

The 25-year-old Capriati has resumed training after an extended break in the aftermath of her Australian victory. In two weeks, she heads west to try to Top peak in the valley at the State Farm Classic. The Scottsdale, Arizona event will be staged at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, February 25-March 3rd. Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, 2001 runner-up Meghann Shaughnessy and Hingis are among the top players competing in the $585,000 tournament.

Capriati will skip Indian Wells to return to Florida and train for the Nasdaq-100 Open, which will be staged March 20-31st at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Florida. A year ago, Capriati held eight championship points in an all-Florida resident final before falling to Venus Williams 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).

The Williams sisters, whose highly-anticipated semifinal showdown at Indian Wells last year came to a controversial conclusion when Venus withdrew citing an injury 20 minutes before the match was set to start, will not play Indian Wells this year. And with Lindsay Davenport sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, the tournament will be without the top four American women. Capriati said the timing of the tournament it ends four days before the Nasdaq-100 Open starts, prevents her from playing it and possibly picking up some easy ranking points.

"Scheduling-wise (Indian Wells) has never been the best time for me and really I'm gonna do what I've gotta do to stay in this game and feel good," Capriati said. "I can't start compromising my time and commitments to concentrate on these ranking points. I figure that if I can play well enough in these other tournaments that will come anyways and I will make up the points. The Ericsson (Nasdaq-100) is more important for me being in my hometown and coming from Indian Wells and adjusting to the time change is just more difficult. I'd rather take that week to get home in Florida and adjust to the conditions and get ready. I can't say I won't ever play there (Indian Wells), but maybe there are more reasons than I wish to comment on right now."

The former Olympic gold medalist said she hasn't had time to watch the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, but the passing of time has not diminished the golden glow she feels as an Olympic champion.

For me it was a great time and great moment that stands up there almost like a Grand Slam," Capriati said. "It's a little different for those athletes because they are working four years of their life for that one specific moment. It's hard to describe unless you've really been in that situation: the thrill of winning and just kind of reflecting on everything you've done. It's your moment in time when you really feel like you're the best."


<wonder what those other reasons are for not playing Indian Wells?>
:confused:

gogetter
Feb 15th, 2002, 02:29 AM
Thanks for sharing the great article! So disappointed that Jen won't be playing IW!!!
:sad:

Her reasons about timing and wanting to focus on winning her home-town event makes sense. Sounds like she has some personal reasons as well though. Intriguing!

JCFan
Feb 15th, 2002, 02:36 AM
Thanks so much for that article. I can also understand her not wanting to play IW. But...I wonder what those reasons are too?? Could it have anything to do with what happened last year with the fans?? Interesting...

monster
Feb 15th, 2002, 06:09 AM
Thanks for the article
i UNDERSTAND Jen's reason's
Odd to have 2 Mega tournies back to back
Should go Memphis- INdian Wells- Scotsdale- Miami I reckon

magassi
Feb 15th, 2002, 06:21 AM
"I can't say I won't ever play there (Indian Wells), but maybe there are more reasons than I wish to comment on right now."

Jennifer is obviously making a reference to what happened to Venus and Serena...

Jennifer once again shows her true integrity as a person... what happened to V&S at Indian Wells was and is inexcusable and I'm glad she's not playing...

mishar
Feb 15th, 2002, 02:34 PM
i seriously doubt that.

I think Jen probably has reasons we know nothing about, perhaps issues with the tournament director on a personal level.

sartrista7
Feb 15th, 2002, 02:47 PM
It might be what happened to V and S, but I think it's more likely that her issues with IW date back further than that - she skipped it last year too, before the Williams debacle, without a particular reason.

Aloysius
Feb 15th, 2002, 02:50 PM
I don't think it has anything to do with last year (unless she had a crystal ball handy) as she hasn't played IW for a few years now. It's more likely to be for personal reasons whatever they are. She's not quite that considerate.

Infiniti2001
Feb 15th, 2002, 03:40 PM
Maybe she realizes that she doesn't have to kill herself playing tournament after tournament (evil grin) to maintain the numero uno ranking...

Mark43
Feb 15th, 2002, 03:51 PM
I think it makes perfect sense, she doen't want to wear herself out before a huge 10 day event in the Miami heat. I was hoping Jennifer would play IW but now I am glad she isn't. It worked well for her last year to do the same. I hope she just goes one win further this year.

veryborednow
Feb 15th, 2002, 04:16 PM
Mark35 - I agree, it's good to see she isn't over playing early on in the season and get herself injured for the rest of the year...

Volcana
Feb 15th, 2002, 06:45 PM
IMHO, the absence of the four top American players this year is just about the perfect response to last year. I actually don't assign 100% of the blame to the crowd. The announcers spent all week intimating that Venus and Serena's match would be fixed. The crowd just reacted to being primed.

I do feel sorry for Charlie Pasarall.

Tratree
Feb 15th, 2002, 08:06 PM
At the risk of opening Pandora's box......I'm sick of hearing this is what Indian Wells deserves, etc. The Indian Wells tournament and fans didn't deserve not to have a second semifinal and have all the controversy that led to the atrocious behaivor of SOME of the people at the final on Saturday. It's not like the crowd just decided to boo for no apparent reason. Venus and Serena had been very well supported during the week before the incident. I'm not about to excuse the boorish behaivor that happened, but I also don't excuse Venus' late withdrawal and the suspicion of match-fixing that has shadowed the Williams for years as a main contributing factor. Neither side is innocent. Venus owed it to the organizers and fans to let them know in a timely fashion that she wouldn't be able to play. Don't give me the "she was trying to wait to the last minute to see if she could play" stuff. I saw her at 5:30 that evening hobbling around the media/players area and looking quite depressed like she knew she couldn't play. At the same time, I have to say I DO believe her knee was very painful and she should not have played...it's just the way she handled it that was bad.

Frankly, Charlie Pasarall and the tournamet has gotten the shaft twice now...first from the fallout of Venus' withdrawal and now from Venus and Serena not playing this year. Lindsay and Jennifer not playing doesn't help matters either, but that's another matter the WTA will need to address. Why the @#$%$% are the biggest tier 1 tournaments back to back on the schedule??

anyways, that's my $0.02 :)

CC
Feb 15th, 2002, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by Tratree
[B]I'm not about to excuse the boorish behaivor that happened, but I also don't excuse Venus' late withdrawal and the suspicion of match-fixing that has shadowed the Williams for years as a main contributing factor /B]

You make it sound as if the Williamses are responsible for this "match-fixing shadow."

Bright Red
Feb 15th, 2002, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by Tratree
I also don't excuse Venus' late withdrawal and the suspicion of match-fixing that has shadowed the Williams for years as a main contributing factor. Neither side is innocent. Venus owed it to the organizers and fans to let them know in a timely fashion that she wouldn't be able to play. Don't give me the "she was trying to wait to the last minute to see if she could play" stuff...anyways, that's my $0.02 :)

Instead of receiving credit for waiting and hoping that she could play, Venus is blamed. Serena is to blame, too, even though she was willing to play. How sad.

The pathetic crowd had it in for them from the get-go would have probably booed the Williamses had Venus retired from her qtr-finals match the day before.

I'm just glad they won't be playing at that horrible event.

Tratree
Feb 15th, 2002, 11:48 PM
Originally posted by CC


You make it sound as if the Williamses are responsible for this "match-fixing shadow."

I said nothing of the sort. I stated a fact, that there has been a shadow of match-fixing over them since they started playing each other. Didn't say if it was true, false, deserved or otherwise. I personally don't think they do fix matches because there is no way Serena's personality would willingly take the bitch-slapping defeats she gets at her big sis' hands ;)

Tratree
Feb 15th, 2002, 11:59 PM
Originally posted by Bright Red


Instead of receiving credit for waiting and hoping that she could play, Venus is blamed. Serena is to blame, too, even though she was willing to play. How sad.

The pathetic crowd had it in for them from the get-go would have probably booed the Williamses had Venus retired from her qtr-finals match the day before.

I'm just glad they won't be playing at that horrible event.

I don't blame Venus for not playing when shew as injured. However, what I find her at fault for was not handling it right and informing the tournament so they could move up a match or at least address the crowd like many players do when they are injured. Imagine if the US Open final between Serena and Venus had been canceled after the frenzy that was whipping around Arthur Ashe. That's the atmosphere that was at Indian Wells all day before the big showdown that wasn't. People were disappointed (myself included) and rightly so, but a lot of idiots (who probably weren't even ticketholders for the semifinal session!) decided to act like jackasses. Their actions were unbelievable and inexcusible, but it was by no means everyone at Indian Wells and it was definitely not the tournament's fault.

Celeste
Feb 16th, 2002, 12:09 AM
Well, I have a different viewpoint. I have watched a couple of their matches and seen the scores of a few others. In my opinion, they don't play well against each other. It's a sloppy one-sided error-fest. Had I had tickets to the Indian Wells semi's, I would not have been excited, because I would have expected a crappy match. Serena looked great after humiliating Davenport, but that Venus match against Elena, that was awful. Just awful! Rank! So maybe Serena would have had a chance. They're sisters, close sisters, who don't like to play each other. It's understandable. I'm not criticizing them, but in my view, their matches are crappy! Sure, if you want to see them in person, that was the opportunity, but you can watch them individually in other matches. Of course, I'm a Serena fan, so it's not like I look forward to these matches, but all these silly "I was expecting a showdown." What showdown? I thought the U.S. Open final was pretty lousy. Serena beat her once in an exhibition tournament, the rest are a lay-down with Venus playing poorly. Come on! Sure, the players were fine, but they don't play against each other well. I don't understand the Indian Wells debacle for this reason, because any rational tennis fan, while maybe wanting to see them, could not have been expecting to see a really good match. Just my opinion. We're not talking Chris/Martina level matches here!

Bright Red
Feb 16th, 2002, 12:22 AM
Originally posted by Tratree
...what I find her at fault for was not handling it right and informing the tournament so they could move up a match or at least address the crowd like many players do when they are injured...

That's fine if it's your opinion, Tratree. I just don't think that anything the Sisters could have done would have met the crowd's approval. We'll never know.


Originally posted by Tratree
...[p]eople were disappointed (myself included) and rightly so, but a lot of idiots...decided to act like jackasses. Their actions were unbelievable and inexcusible, but it was by no means everyone at Indian Wells and it was definitely not the tournament's fault.

IMO, the tournament is partly to blame for failing to handle the situation better. After all, they can exert some control over the crowd. Bottom line, neither the tournament nor the crowd will get top players this year, and I regret that you are paying the price for a group of idiots. Hopefully, a lesson will somehow have been learned.

Tratree
Feb 16th, 2002, 12:26 AM
Originally posted by Celeste
Well, I have a different viewpoint. I have watched a couple of their matches and seen the scores of a few others. In my opinion, they don't play well against each other. It's a sloppy one-sided error-fest. Had I had tickets to the Indian Wells semi's, I would not have been excited, because I would have expected a crappy match. Serena looked great after humiliating Davenport, but that Venus match against Elena, that was awful. Just awful! Rank! So maybe Serena would have had a chance. They're sisters, close sisters, who don't like to play each other. It's understandable. I'm not criticizing them, but in my view, their matches are crappy! Sure, if you want to see them in person, that was the opportunity, but you can watch them individually in other matches. Of course, I'm a Serena fan, so it's not like I look forward to these matches, but all these silly "I was expecting a showdown." What showdown? I thought the U.S. Open final was pretty lousy. Serena beat her once in an exhibition tournament, the rest are a lay-down with Venus playing poorly. Come on! Sure, the players were fine, but they don't play against each other well. I don't understand the Indian Wells debacle for this reason, because any rational tennis fan, while maybe wanting to see them, could not have been expecting to see a really good match. Just my opinion. We're not talking Chris/Martina level matches here!

Speaking as a rational tennis fan, one can always hope that Serena might actually pull herself together and win the darn match. THAT is what makes at least the impending showdown exciting. Sadly, it always turns into a sloppy one-sided match.

Celeste
Feb 16th, 2002, 12:32 AM
Fine, but you can't hang anything nefarious on Serena. I hate my sister, and in Hana Mandlikova's words, I would "bleed to death" before I lost to her in a sport event, but Serena and Venus are close. If Serena can't play better against her, it's mental, not some scheme to shaft audiences. And people knew this before the match.

CC
Feb 16th, 2002, 01:14 AM
Tratree, I'm not going to get into a debate over a few words or try to determine exactly what you said because my eyes work just fine (for now) and I can read. Instead, I will reiterate what I meant using a different word: what you wrote, or how you wrote it gave the impression that the Williamses might be responsible or at fault.....

(This is still in regards to the match-fixing comment by the way)

Jakeev
Feb 16th, 2002, 03:09 AM
Uh getting back to Jennifer Capriati since this is about her......mishar since you are up to speculating what problems do you think she would have against the tournament director?

How bout elaborating a little more.

And as for that smart ass Aloysious you have not idea what her other reasons are so don't spout out the crap if you don't what you are talking about.

mishar
Feb 16th, 2002, 06:32 AM
Jakeev -- really I was just speculating. I have no idea what Jennifer's motives are, but considering that she skipped Indian Wells last year, I think she must have a dislike of the tournament for other reasons. The first thing I think of is some kind of grudge against Charlie P.
Maybe he did/said something about/to her once? Who knows?
Anyway, it's total speculation.

I understand why Venus and Serena don't want to play there, but it's hard for me to see what the tournament could have done differently. I don't think anyone anticipated the crowd behavior. Crowds boo and act horribly sometimes at sporting events. That was pretty exceptional, but except for emptying the stadium, I'm not sure what the tournament could have done to affect it.

Tratree
Feb 16th, 2002, 06:40 AM
Originally posted by CC
Tratree, I'm not going to get into a debate over a few words or try to determine exactly what you said because my eyes work just fine (for now) and I can read. Instead, I will reiterate what I meant using a different word: what you wrote, or how you wrote it gave the impression that the Williamses might be responsible or at fault.....

(This is still in regards to the match-fixing comment by the way)

Cool....whatever :)

CC
Feb 16th, 2002, 03:13 PM
;) ;) ;)

veronica
Feb 16th, 2002, 04:23 PM
Unfotunately, this will never go away. As a stalwart V/S fan this is my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.

I understand why Venus and Serena don't want to play there, but it's hard for me to see what the tournament could have done differently. I don't think anyone anticipated the crowd behavior. Crowds boo and act horribly sometimes at sporting events. That was pretty exceptional, but except for emptying the stadium, I'm not sure what the tournament could have done to affect it.


The WTA, the Williams camp and the touney directors messed up big time when they did not have Venus hobble out to the court on crutches and speak to the crowd when she withdrew. I truly believe that would have made all the difference in the world.

On the day of the finals, the tourney director should not have allowed play to begin until the crowd calmed down. The officials made no efforts to verbally chastise the crowd for booing. We have all seen chair umpires tell the audience to pipe down between firts/second serves, turn off cell phones, etc. The chair ump at that final match should have halted play until the booing stopped.

Anyway, I think Jennifer's comments are interesting. Maybe she feels she has bad luck there. I remember she lost to Cara Black in 2000 and Chanda Rubin way back in 1996 at this tourney.


veronica