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US Open 2002 Thread

Serena Williams receives top singles seed for 2002 US Open
August 20, 2002


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., – The USTA today announced that American Serena Williams--the No. 1 player in the world will be seeded No. 1 in the 2002 US Open Women’s Singles draws. The 2002 US Open will be played at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., August 26 – September 8.

Williams will be followed, in order, by her sister, Venus, the two-time defending US Open Women’s Singles champion; reigning Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati; and Lindsay Davenport, the No. 1 ranked player in the world for 2001. The last time American women held the top four seeds at the US Open was in 1983 when Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert Lloyd, Andrea Jaeger, Tracy Austin, and Pam Shriver were seeded in the top five.

For 2002, the US Open will continue the practice of following the ATP Entry System and WTA Tour rankings to determine the seeds for the men's and women's singles draws with the exception of Lindsay Davenport. After consulting with the WTA Tour, the USTA has decided to follow the WTA Tour's special ranking procedure currently in effect for Davenport. Placing Davenport as the fourth seed is consistent with this special ranking procedure, which has been utilized at four WTA Tour events in North America this summer.

Davenport injured her right knee in the semifinals of the 2001 WTA Tour Championships in November. She withdrew from the event before the final, having already secured the year-end No. 1 ranking, and did not return to the tour until July.

Williams, 20, is attempting to win her third consecutive Grand Slam singles title and become the first woman to win three major titles in the same year since Martina Hingis won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1997. Williams won her first Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open. She ends Hingis’ streak of five consecutive US Opens as the No. 1 seed in women’s singles from 1997-2001.

The draw for the 2001 US Open will take place in Wednesday, August 21 at 11 a.m. in Interview Room One at the USTA National Tennis Center.

WOMEN
1. Serena Williams, United States
2. Venus Williams, United States
3. Jennifer Capriati, United States
4. Lindsay Davenport, United States
5. Jelena Dokic, Yugoslavia
6. Monica Seles, United States
7. Kim Clijsters, Belgium
8. Justine Henin, Belgium
9. Martina Hingis, Switzerland
10. Amelie Mauresmo, France
11. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia
12. Elena Dementieva, Russia
13. Silvia Farina Elia, Italy
14. Chanda Rubin, United States
15. Anastasia Myskina, Russia
16. Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria
17. Anna Smashnova, Israel
18. Ai Sugiyama, Japan
19. Anne Kremer, Luxembourg
20. Daja Bedanova, Czech Republic
21. Lisa Raymond, United States
22. Tatiana Panova, Russia
23. Patty Schnyder, Switzerland
24. Iva Majoli, Croatia
25. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Spain
26. Nathalie Dechy, France
27. Tamarine Tanasugarn, Thailand
28. Eleni Danilidou, Greece
29. Barbara Schett, Austria
30. Meghann Shaughnessy, United States
31. Alexandra Stevenson, United States
32. Paola Suarez, Argentina

The USTA owns and operates the US Open and selects and supports the teams that represent the United States in Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA, the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the United States, is a not-for-profit organization with more than 660,000 members. It invests all its resources to promote and develop the growth of tennis, from the grass roots to the professional levels. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.

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NASDAQ-100 Open Champion Serena Williams To Open The NASDAQ Stock Market
August 21, 2002

The 2002 NASDAQ-100 Open Women’s Champion and No. 1-ranked tennis professional Serena Williams will join NASDAQ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wick Simmons and NASDAQ-100 Open Tournament Founder and Chairman Earl 'Butch' Buchholz to preside over the opening of The NASDAQ Stock Market.

Where:
NASDAQ MarketSite Broadcast Studio
4 Times Square
43rd St. & Broadway - enter on 43rd Street

Date:
Friday, August 23, 2002

Time:
9:00 a.m. Ceremony begins
9:15 a.m. Photo opportunity with Serena Williams
9:30 a.m. Market open

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[B]Sisterly Sequel: Williams Sisters Could Collide In U.S. Open Final Again/B]

By Richard Pagliaro
08/22/2002

The names of past champions were etched on the shiny, silver U.S. Open championship cup that contained the 32 seeds for the 2002 tournament during today's draw. A little more than two weeks from today, one of the names printed prominently on the outside of the cup could be clutching the trophy as the 2002 champion.


The U.S. Open starts on August 26th as top-seeded Serena Williams and second-seeded Venus Williams will begin the tournament on opposite ends of the draw and could collide in their third consecutive Grand Slam final of the season. The U.S. Open trophy has become a Williams' sisters heirloom as the sisters have combined to win three straight U.S. Open crowns with Serena winning in 1999 and Venus claiming the championship in each of the past two years.

Venus and Serena are the strong favorites to return to the final this year and could stage another Saturday night showdown for the singles title.

Two-time defending champion Venus opens against a qualifier and would not meet a seeded player until a possible third-round match against Austrian Barbara Schett. Sixth-seeded Monica Seles, who plays Zsofia Gubacsi in the first round, and ninth-seeded Swiss Martina Hingis, who opens against American Marissa Irvin, are the highest seeds in Venus' quarter, but it's unlikely either of the former champions will stop Venus' run to the semifinals given their recent injury problems.

Third-seeded Jennifer Capriati succumbed to Venus in the 2001 U.S. Open semifinals and could create a semifinal rematch this year. The three-time Grand Slam champion drew a qualifier for her first-round match and enjoys a relatively routine path to the quarterfinals where she could play either seventh-seeded Kim Clijsters or 10th-seeded Amelie Mauresmo.

A chronic shoulder injury has slowed Clijsters this season leaving her vulnerable to an upset. Former Australian Open finalist Mauresmo has beaten Capriati in two consecutive matches including the Wimbledon quarterfinals and the final of Montreal last week. Though Mauresmo clearly has the game to conquer Capriati, questions remain about the French woman's fragile psyche under pressure. Capriati beat Mauresmo 6-3, 6-4 in the 2001 quarterfinals.

Seeking her third straight Grand Slam title, Serena Williams opens against Corina Morariu in the first round and could play rising Russian Dinara Safina or Italy's Rita Grande in the second round. Tendonitis in her knee knocked Serena out of the Montreal tournament last week and she has spent this week receiving treatment in preparation for a U.S. Open run.

Eighth-seeded Belgian Justine Henin and 11th-seeded Slovak Daniela Hantuchova are the top players in Serena's quarter of the draw. Williams defeated Hantuchova in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and while Henin has beaten Williams on red clay this year hard court is not her best surface and the thin Belgian could get overpowered should she meet Serena in the quarterfinals.

Fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport, who plays Eva Dryberg in the first round, could play Serena in the semis with fifth-seeded Jelena Dokic standing as the only other top 10 player in Davenport's quarter of the draw.

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post #4 of 544 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2002, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday, August 22
The princess and the warrior
By Cynthia Faulkner and Greg Garber
ESPN.com


NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- What began as a playtime character choice in the Williams family back yard has become a way to see the subtle differences in Serena and Venus Williams' high-powered version of tennis.


"I don't expect anything to be easy for me on the court," Venus Williams says.


Venus -- the strategist using every hefty weapon in her arsenal to win, and baby sis -- her Serene Highness -- setting high standards and berating herself on court when they are not met. Despite a different mental approach, both have the same goal: to always win.

And lately, for anyone else on the tour, it hasn't been anything close to a fair fight. Heading into the U.S. Open that begins on Monday, Venus and Serena Williams have won seven of the past 12 Grand Slam singles titles. They are overwhelming favorites to make it eight of 13. Tiger Woods, it is worth noting, was 7-for-12 in Slams but failed to go 8-for-13 in the PGA Championship.

With wins in the past two Slam events, the French Open and Wimbledon, Serena, 20, has risen to No. 1 in the world. Venus, 22, who won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001, is No. 2.

Quite frankly, this is causing some morale problems among the troops.

Earlier this week at New Haven's Pilot Pen tournament, Jelena Dokic was asked if opponents of the Williams sisters feel defeated even before they hit the first ball. Dokic, ranked No. 4 in the world, offered an answer of what appeared to be extraordinary honesty: "Sometimes, when the Williams sisters are in the draw, you sort of say, 'Well, maybe a semi or a final would be good.'

"Maybe some in the top 10 think they have a chance, but I think a lot of players maybe get a little bit scared. It's a different game. With the Williams sisters, it's power. If they're on, it's impossible to beat them. You have to hope the sisters have a bad day right now."

Lindsay Davenport, who is returning from knee surgery, seems to relish her burgeoning role as the WTA Tour's unofficial scoldmeister. She appeared to be appalled by Dokic's remarks.

"That's a pretty bad attitude if you have that," Davenport said. "They are obviously the best players in the world. There's no doubt about that and you can't run from that. But, you know, it's tennis. They are human.

"It's not like they are superwomen, but they are obviously head and shoulders above the rest of the players right now. But I don't believe -- that could be (Dokic's) view -- but I wouldn't take that as the view of the players."

Oh, yeah?

Meghann Shaughnessy, a pretty fair player herself, won exactly one point on Venus' serve in the first set of their second-round 6-2, 6-4 match at Pilot Pen. One.

"She came out playing really well," Shaughnessy said. "There wasn't much I could do."

Venus, to her credit, did her best to downplay Dokic's remarks.

"Well, I don't expect anything to be easy for me on the court," she said in New Haven. "I expect a certain amount from myself -- to play well and compete well -- but I don't hope someone gives it to me.


With the Williams sisters in the draw, sometimes a semi is a good result, Jelena Dokic says.


"I started on the bottom. I started with no ranking, and I've worked my way to the top. I give 100 percent when I'm out there. I expect (Dokic), and all the other players, they respect me also -- just as a competitor."

In their early days on the Tour, the older sister was the inspiration for the younger. Today, it seems, the younger sister has unwittingly returned the favor. Serena's success seems to be providing new motivation for Venus.

Because they didn't come to professional tennis through the conventional pipeline of junior tennis, the Williams sisters have far less on-court experience than people like Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis and Davenport. There is evidence, believe it or not, that they have substantial room for improvement.

But which sister has more room?

"Both of us, to be honest," Venus said. "We've been really blessed to be athletic and strong and to really have a good base technically to improve our games. As long as we're working hard and desiring to compete, the sky is the limit, I hope."

Venus, who toys with most players from the baseline, has been forcing herself to come to net more often and, recently, she has looked comfortable making volleys. Her biggest weakness is a soft second serve, which Serena has historically abused. In this year's French final, for example, Serena won 27 of 40 points on Venus' second serve.

Both are athletes of astonishing speed and power, but there is a vague sense that Venus is closer to a finished product. Serena, who lost five of her first six professional matches against Venus, has now won the past three -- all in straight sets. A victory over Venus in the championship final at the national tennis center (they are, of course, seeded first and second) would lift Serena to a field-leveling 5-5 record against her big sister.


Serena Williams certainly looked royal when she won her second consecutive Grand Slam at Wimbledon.


On a recent cover of ESPN The Magazine is Serena, striking a pose of arrival as an American Idol of immense proportion. This, Venus insisted, is nothing new.

"When we were little, she would do anything to win," Venus said. "We'd have talent competitions, like a singing contest. My older sister Isha was the judge and Serena, Lyn(drea), my other sister, and I all sang a song. Serena would sing the same song (Whitney Houston's "Saving all My Love"), and if she didn't win, she'd cry. So Isha'd always pick Serena to win the talent show. So she's always been like that. She just hates to lose."

A win at the U.S. Open would give Serena three Slam titles in one year, something Venus has never done. You definitely get the idea this is something she would like to achieve.

"I feel I can play so much better," Serena recently told ESPN The Magazine. "There are a lot of things that I should be doing that I'm not doing. I'm nowhere near my peak.

"Now comes the U.S. Open. Obviously, Venus wants to win. I'm trying to catch up with Venus. She's got four Grand Slams. I've only got three.

"I'm getting ready."

No. 1, for Serena, is a throne she could get used to. That's the way it was growing up back in Southern California.

"We'd play in the yard and (have) different adventures," Venus remembered. "Lyn would be the wizard, and I would be the warrior.

"Serena would always have to be the princess."

Cynthia Faulkner is the tennis editor for ESPN.com, and Greg Garber is a senior writer.

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Venus Running Out of Sisterly Love
Sun Aug 25, 4:47 PM ET


Venus Williams speaks during a news conference the National Tennis Center, in New York, Sunday, August 25, 2002. (AP Photo/Robert Spencer)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - There must be a limit to Venus Williams ( news - web sites)'s tolerance levels.



The twice defending U.S. Open ( news - web sites) champion was magnanimous in defeat when she lost out to younger sister Serena in both the French Open ( news - web sites) and Wimbledon ( news - web sites) finals over the past two months.

But anyone who remembers the 1999 U.S. Open final -- when Serena became the first member of the Williams clan to lift a grand slam crown -- will know that Venus does not take too kindly to being upstaged, especially by a sister two years her junior.

On that warm and muggy September night, Venus, sitting courtside in the floodlit arena, was visibly agitated as Serena beat her to a major.

So with Serena running away with most of the spoils on offer this year, the tall and powerful Venus will be determined to get her own back.

Revenge will clearly be top of Venus's agenda over the next fortnight as not only has the muscular Serena grabbed the number one ranking away from her big sister, she has also won all three of their meetings this year.

"Serena's crazy about beating me nowadays. Maybe she'll give me a break and I can take something home for myself," world number two Venus said after winning her sixth title of the year in San Diego earlier this month.

RECORD BOOKS

Since Venus and Serena rewrote the record books at Flushing Meadows in 2001 by becoming the first sisters to contest a grand slam final in more than 100 years, they have dominated women's tennis like no other siblings before them.

Having featured in three of the last four grand slam finals, the pair will be chasing even more records in New York.

While 20-year-old Serena attempts to become the first player since Steffi Graf ( news - profile - photos) in 1996 to win three majors in a row in one calendar year, Venus will be gunning to become the first player in over two decades to win a hat-trick of consecutive U.S. Open titles.

"I have quite a few years to do really well," said Venus.

"I would definitely want to utilize my time. If anything, I don't want to look back and say I didn't give it my all. My personal goal is to do my personal best and that's all I expect of myself.

"For me, that's winning every match I play but that's not possible. Sometimes you have to lose in order to get better." With the rest of the top women reduced to playing a supporting role as the headline grabbing "Williams Show" takes center stage, the likes of Australian Open ( news - web sites) champion Jennifer Capriati, fourth seed Lindsay Davenport ( news - profile - photos) and former world number one Martina Hingis ( news - profile - photos) will be hoping for some divine intervention at the hard-court major.

SUMMER CAMPAIGN

One such intervention came in the form of acute knee tendinitis which forced Serena, who chalked up a phenomenal 21-match winning streak during her successful summer campaign, out of the Canadian Open last week.

But injuries aside, Capriati and company will have to dig deep into their bag of tricks if they are to have any chance of stopping the Williams's charge to yet another final showdown.

Although Capriati has failed to win a tournament since her Melbourne Park triumph in January, she received a much needed boost by reaching the Canadian Open final last week.

Despite succumbing to the power of Amelie Mauresmo on this occasion, Capriati, seeded third behind the Williams at the Open, was clearly relieved to play in her first title match since the Miami Masters in March.

"I was putting too much pressure on myself and feeling the expectation of others," Capriati, who has never made it past the U.S. Open semis, told Reuters.

"Maybe I was carrying the load on my back of being the only one who has a chance against the Williamses. But now I've put all that aside and am doing my thing and enjoying it again.

"I don't have to prove anything. I want to start winning again and be where I was last year," added Capriati, referring to her breakthrough year when she finally laid to rest her demons to win the Australian and French Open crowns.

PERSONAL TRIUMPH

For former champions Hingis and Davenport, simply being able to set foot in the noisy and chaotic cauldron that is Flushing Meadows will be a personal triumph.

While Davenport is coming off a lengthy nine-month injury layoff after undergoing knee surgery, Hingis too was sidelined for three months -- since being operated on to repair damaged ligaments on her left ankle in May -- and took her first tentative steps on a competitive court just a week ago.

But the Swiss, who received a wildcard to play in New York as she missed the entry deadline because of her injuries, said she was not planning to just make up the numbers in the 128-strong women's draw.

"I'm not going there just to show up," the 21-year-old said.

"I have to work myself up there if I want to challenge."

With the duo being seriously short of match practice, and Jelena Dokic, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin failing to live up to their potential in the slams this year, the odds are that the Williams sisters will once again run away with all the prizes on offer.

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Venus Williams speaks during a news conference the National Tennis Center, in New York, Sunday, August 25, 2002.

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Down the Road, Venus in Foreground

The New York Times
By HARVEY ARATON

Someone asked me recently during an interview for a television report which Williams sister I believed, when all is said and done, would be remembered as the better player. My first thought: maybe father Richard is the one to call, given his vision for his daughters becoming the toast of women's tennis in the first place.

Several years ago, when Venus was just providing a sample of the brilliance to come, Richard pronounced her not-so-little sister Serena as the one to keep our eye on. That, of course, was before we realized that Richard, while displaying perfect vision in seeing the big picture, distorts image and issue from time to time. So without having previously given the question much thought, I found myself blurting out to the television interviewer, "I'd say Venus, when their careers are over, will have more Grand Slams and will be considered the better player."

Obviously, it is Serena Williams who, in addition to being the top-ranked player in the world, is unquestionably No. 1 in the house she shares with Venus. Heading into the United States Open, Serena is on an absolute Grand Slam roll, having beaten Venus in the finals of the French Open and Wimbledon — all this apparently precipitated by Serena's 6-2, 6-2 wipeout of Venus in Key Biscayne, Fla., on March 28.


While the sisters spare few words when the amateur psychologists of the news media try to infiltrate their shoulder-to-shoulder ranks, there are clues to be found in trying to understand the ebb and flow of a story unlike any other we have seen in professional sports. For example: before they played each other in the Key Biscayne tournament last March, Serena told of how Venus, having just finished her own match, heard that Serena was in need of a hitting partner before her match with Martina Hingis.

"Next thing I know, out came Venus, long legs, running," Serena said. "I can really count on Venus for anything."

Big sister clearly has a lifelong habit of looking out for Serena, but a few more beatings like the last few and, it says here, Venus's maternal instincts will have to be stifled by her will to survive at the top.

Serena hits the harder ball and has clearly harnessed that power in recent months, but Venus is the better athlete, the more versatile player, a spidery presence and the one I believe with the greater potential to expand her game. Maybe this is just wishful thinking in a muscular world producing armies of baseline drones, but with Venus's uncommonly long strides and reach, there is no reason why she can't be more of a force at the net, if not a serve-and-volley player. Of course, for that to happen, she would probably need a coach whose job it would be to probe Serena's weaknesses, and that would mean breaking away from the familiar family mold.

Venus has won four Grand Slam events to Serena's three. If they continue to trade the No. 1 ranking like a pair of shoes they both fit into and divvy up Grand Slam titles as if they were family heirlooms, the question of which one is better will probably be unanswerable, an argument with no right or wrong. And while that might be the preferable comfort zone for these remarkable sisters who so clearly love each other, my gut feeling is that their relationship will become less of a factor as they move toward their middle 20's, their mid-career tennis lives become more complex and new challengers emerge to keep them from dwelling too much on each other.

Based on what we've already seen, this would be better for Venus, who has had much more trouble enjoying her victories over Serena than vice versa. Worst of all — and in what was her most telling public moment — was having to watch Serena win her first Grand Slam title at the 1999 United States Open before Venus could break through a year later at Wimbledon.

There were people who took a gander at Venus in the family box, hooded and grim, and wondered if she would ever recover, competitively speaking. By the end of the next summer, she was Wimbledon and United States Open champion, on a two-year roll that vaulted her to No. 1 and to the point where it looked as if she were leaving Serena behind, along with everyone else.

Then, without warning, it was Serena's turn to show what she was made of. Outside of a recent defeat to Chanda Rubin, Serena has been a dominating presence. Her year has been a replay of crushing ground strokes, of daring winners, but for the long term, I'll still take the player who blankets the court, who can wear an opponent out with her legs as well as with her shots and her serve.

I'll take Venus in the Williams sister career pool, assuming she is going to soon realize — maybe as soon as the Open final on the night of Sept. 7 — that Serena is now perfectly capable of looking after herself.

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Ascension of Williamses leaves opponents gasping

Palm Beach Post
By Karen Crouse, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The people who say that women's tennis is boring right now, who are they kidding? These undoubtedly are the same people who would yawn if overnight geometric figures turned up grooved into the grass at Wimbledon.

The fact that two sisters, Venus and Serena Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, have contested three of the past four Grand Slam finals is as uncanny a phenomenon as crop circles.

Imagine if Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were blood brothers instead of merely chilly rivals. Would that make their duels on the PGA Tour less interesting?

Like Mickelson, Venus, the two-time defending U.S. Open champion, comes into the final Grand Slam event of 2002 having failed all year to win a major title, though not for any lack of trying.

Mickelson might have won the Masters and the U.S. Open if not for Woods. Venus likely would have taken the French Open and Wimbledon titles if not for Serena. The difference is that Mickelson can deposit his enmity for Woods into his motivational bank and watch it compound daily.

Venus lives with Serena, she loves her dearly. When your best friend also is your worst nightmare, what do you do? If you're Venus, when asked about your prospects for defending your title, you talk elliptically.

"I really just want to play well," Venus said Sunday. "I know I've tried my hardest. So I suppose it's enough for me." She managed a weak smile. "But I would like to cross the finish line every now and then, too."

Venus, 22, won her fourth singles titles in as many years at the WTA Tour stop in New Haven, Conn., last week. She has won seven titles and lost only six matches all year. Alas, three of those bitter pills have been administered by Serena, 20, who prevailed in the semifinals at Key Biscayne in March and in the finals at the French Open and Wimbledon.

Serena, who opens against Boca Raton's Corina Morariu tonight, has a match record this year of 38-4. The only thing to stop her has been tendinitis in her knees, which forced her to withdraw from a tournament two weeks ago in Montreal.

Venus may be the two-time defending U.S. Open champion, but it was Serena who was chosen to ring the bell to open trading on Wall Street the other day, Serena who is No. 1 in the world, Serena who recently graced the cover of a national magazine.

Serena! Serena! Serena! What's a sister to do?

If you're Venus, you smile and try to frame an awkward situation in the best possible light. "It's not exactly easy to make Grand Slam finals," she said. "It's just a lot of work that goes into getting the last two spots, that's for sure. But when we both have gotten there, it's been, you know, really sweet success for both of us, that's for sure."

Another certainty is this: The ascension to No. 1 and No. 2 of the Williamses marks the arrival of a new era in women's tennis.

The sister act has shifted the sport into the next gear, so much so that some people are left breathing in their exhaust. They've sped the game up so much, it can be difficult to see the Williamses' execution for their power. Either one can put a point away with a drop shot or a slice as easily as a blistering ground stroke.

"In general, I do enjoy playing the power game," Venus said. "That's what I was brought up on back in the '80s when power was really coming into fashion. So that's really my base. But I like to be able to play all shots. As a professional tennis player, I expect to be able to play any shot out there on the court."

The Williamses have become true professionals, deepening their dedication to the game. They've cut back on their schooling and added strength classes with a full-time trainer. They've raised the stakes for winning and in doing so have dared people either to match them -- as Jennifer Capriati has by hiring a full-time trainer -- or fold.

The next two weeks should give people a good indication of who remains in this high-stakes game.

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Serena to share spotlight with Morariu

from eurosport.com



She may be coming off back-to-back Grand Slam wins, but when Serena Williams takes to the court in the US Open’s opening night feature match, she’ll have to share the spotlight with an unranked wildcard. A year ago, fellow American Corina Morariu, 24, was diagnosed with leukaemia.
She left the circuit in May 2001 to undergo treatment and returned a month ago in San Diego.

"I thought that I was never going to play again - ever," Morariu told Eurosport. "I was feeling so sick and having such a tough time with the treatment and the disease."

Her father, a neurologist, says that she’s cured with only a 10% chance that the disease will return. The Florida native, who teamed up with Lindsay Davenport to win the Wimbledon doubles title in 1999, lost in the first round with partner Kimberly Po in San Diego, but already made it to the semi-finals a week later in Los Angeles.

"It was great to be back out there, but also hard for me because it's something that I had done for so long, since I was five years old," she said of her return. "For it to be so hard and physically difficult for me, was frustrating at times."

She’s got a tall order facing the world’s top-ranked women’s player. But since her Wimbledon victory in early July, Serena has suffered from a sore knee, playing in only one tournament where she uncharacteristically lost to fellow American Chanda Rubin in the Manhattan Beach quarter-finals.


"Everything is fine now," said a confident Williams. "I have been working really hard to get through it. I am happy because it has healed and to have an injury that close to the Open, I was a bit nervous but now I am solid."

With Serena and Venus currently topping the WTA rankings both have been positioned at opposite ends of the draw, making it highly possible that the powerful sisters could reach their third consecutive grand slam final. Serena, who beat her sister in both the French Open and Wimbledon finals, is confident of making it a unique hat-trick.

"As long as I'm thinking I am and I'm mentally ready then I believe it will be tough to beat me," she said, "but everyone has to lose sometime, no-one is unbeatable 100% of the time."

Tonight’s match will be preceeded by a ceremony honouring the victims of last year’s September 11th terrorist attacks on New York, but again, a lot more emotion is in store when Corina Morariu’s name is called out.

"I'm sure it’ll be emotional," predicts Morariu. "And I hope I’m going to get a warm reception. It will be a nice feeling to get back out there, to play again and to be healthy.

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Williams Sisters Are Beatable, Says Confident Mauresmo

August 26, 2002 07:53 AM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - The Williams sisters can be beaten and the return of Lindsay Davenport could help break up their domination of the women's game, a confident Amelie Mauresmo said before the start of the U.S. Open Monday.

After winning the Canadian Open and pushing Davenport hard in a close-fought duel at the New Haven Open last week, the Frenchwoman said she was in good form going into the U.S. Open, where she is seeded 10th.

"I feel my tennis is picking up form, I'm reaching an excellent level," Mauresmo, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon this year, said in an interview in Le Figaro newspaper.

Serena Williams has already won the French Open and Wimbledon this year and is the top seed at the U.S. Open, with her elder sister Venus, champion for the last two years, seeded second. Serena took the U.S. title in 1999.

Mauresmo believes other players are ready to break the sisters' domination of the game. "This domination won't go on forever. Everyone has highs and lows. They are on top... but it won't take a lot to change that," she said. "The Williamses are very strong but beatable."

Davenport, who has made a strong comeback after returning from knee surgery in January, could be a threat with her powerful play, she said.

Mauresmo said she had taken a few days rest after losing to Davenport last week, so as to be fresh for the U.S. Open.

"I want things to go well here," she said.

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From the Bob Larson Tennis News:

Women's Look Forward: The U. S. Open

On the men's side, the U. S. Open is so wide-open as to be effectively beyond prediction. On the women's side, it's a completely different matter. There are three candidates to win: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and None of the Above. And even though None of The Above represents sixty-three sixty-fourths of the draw, it's clearly at a disadvantage. We hate making predictions -- but on this court, the Sisters clearly have to be favored over all comers. The final has a good chance of being boringly predictable.

Still, as with the men, let's look at the candidates and try to guess who has the best of those slight chances.

1. Serena Williams
Why she might win it: She's been the best player in the world this year, and has arguably been the best on hardcourts since 1999. She's won two straight Slams.
Why she might not: The changes in her game that allowed her to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon may possibly have been at the expense of her hardcourt skills; she played only one warmup (Los Angeles), where she lost early. That also implies she's rusty. Plus she has the bad knee that took her out of the Canadian Open.

2. Venus Williams
Why she might win it: She's won it for the past two years, and has a 13-match winning streak on hardcourts.
Why she might not: Serena. Also the possibility of injury. And the pressure is on her -- the pressure of threepeating, and the pressure of not having won a Slam in a while. Plus she's in the worst quarter of the draw.

3. Jennifer Capriati
Why she might win it: She's won three Slams.
Why she might not: Hasn't won a title since the Australian Open. Lots of bad losses. Hasn't solved the Williams Sisters, and no sign of a plan to do so.

4. Lindsay Davenport
Why she might win it: Has won it before; loves this tournament. Hardcourts are her best surface. She has the power to hang with the Williams Sisters.
Why she might not: Hasn't won a Slam in two and a half years. Still recovering from her long injury. She had a meltdown against Venus at New Haven.

5. Jelena Dokic
Why she might win it: Well -- she's #4 in the world and beat Jennifer Capriati recently.
Why she might not: Most over-ranked player in the Top Ten; probably should be seeded for Round of Sixteen, not quarterfinal. Comes in injured. Apart from Wimbledon 1999, has not done well at Slams. Plays the standard power baseline game, but not nearly as well as the Williams Sisters or Davenport. There is nothing that sets her apart.

6. Monica Seles
Why she might win it: She has more Slams than any other player in the field, including two U. S. Opens.
Why she might not: Apart from her general problems (fitness; hasn't won a Slam in six years), she comes in injured and having played no warmups. Plus she's in the horrid Venus/Hingis/Rubin quarter.

7. Kim Clijsters
Why she might win it: Has the game, and likes hardcourts.
Why she might not: Has been injured for much of the year, and is in bad form. Did not do well in warmups. She didn't perform well in her one previous Slam final.

8. Justine Henin
Why she might win it: She's the highest-ranked player with something other than bash in her game.
Why she might not: Unfortunately for Henin, bash is worth a lot on hardcourts, and spins and slices have relatively little value. This is her worst surface; she just doesn't have a kill shot. She lost first round at New Haven. She has been injured. She also has problems with nerves.

9. Martina Hingis
Why she might win it: She has won it before. She's the one player with a real chance to give the Williams Sisters a different look; if she really plays her best, she has a better chance against them than most of the players ranked above her.
Why she might not: She's definitely developing a problem putting away matches, especially against the bashers. It's only her third tournament back. American hardcourt is probably her worst surface; she has more bash than Henin, but not enough, and as with Henin, the surface doesn't reward her variety.

10. Amelie Mauresmo
Why she might win it: Playing her best hardcourt tennis ever.
Why she might not: Doesn't like hardcourts, even now. She's tinkering with her game. Her style isn't really built for the surface. Has never won a major.

11. Daniela Hantuchova
Why she might win it: When she has everything working, she has more variety than any players above her except Hingis and Henin, and she has far more power than either.
Why she might not: Not much experience at this level. Pieces frequently fall off her game. Probably not ready to win a Slam.

14. Chanda Rubin
Why she might win it: Having the best season of her career. Beat Serena Williams at Los Angeles. If she's going to do it, this is probably the time.
Why she might not: While Rubin has been immensely impressive this summer, and seems to have made genuine improvements in her game, her career numbers just don't spell a Slam winner. Not with two Williamses in the draw.

Best Early Round Matches

For the men, the existence of 32 seeds really didn't cost anything in terms of first round matches; there are literally dozens of very good matches in the first two rounds. The women aren't quite as richly endowed; they still don't have quite the depth of the men, and they also have a slightly better ranking system, so the seeds are more likely to deserve seeding. (Based on divisor scores, only one woman who really should have been seeded failed to be seeded: Clarisa Fernandez.) But we still see quite a few matches with interesting features:

First Round

(1) Serena Williams vs. Morariu. Yes, it will be a blowout (assuming Serena is healthy). But it's still Morariu's first Slam in a year and a half.

Grande vs. Safina. Skilled veteran having a tough year goes against a youngster with clear talent but some rough edges still.

C. Fernandez vs. Bovina. Fernandez is the top unseeded player, though this is not her surface (she lost in New Haven qualifying). Bovina is much bigger and stronger but hasn't really learned to use that. One or the other could do damage here.

Nagyova vs. (28) Daniilidou. A player who started the year in the Top 25 versus a player looking to earn her way there.

(23) Schnyder vs. Petrova. Petrova is just back from injury, so she probably can't hurt Schnyder. But if by some chance she actually is in her start-of-2002 form, she might well have an upset up her sleeve.

Pierce vs. (32) Suarez. Power versus steadiness. Suarez beat Pierce at the Australian Open two years ago. This surface is probably better for Pierce -- but Suarez has been having the better year overall.

(17) Smashnova vs. Mikaelian. A steady but not powerful veteran against a youngster with great potential.

Lucic (Q) vs. (1) V. Williams. Another sure blowout, but it's a triumph for Lucic to get even this far. Has she finally gotten over her hump?

Second Round

Tulyaganova vs. (26) Dechy. Tulyaganova serves very well, hits hard, and can't seem to figure out what she is doing. Dechy is steadier. It could be close.

Granville vs. (24) Majoli. Granville is on her way up. Majoli is very inconsistent. The surface favors Granville.

(12) Dementieva vs. Schiavone. Both players had their first big Slam successes at the U. S. Open. Both have been having trouble this year. Both have something to prove.

(31) Stevenson vs. Kournikova (or Widjaja). Time for someone to make a comeback.

C. Fernandez vs. (5) Dokic. Dokic is hurting. Fernandez should have been seeded. Could there be an upset in the works?

Zvonareva vs. (28) Daniilidou. Two very promising youngsters.

(30) Shaughnessy vs. Martinez. Two players having tough years. Shaughnessy practiced a lot on clay as she grew up, but she still has a hardcourt game. How will she adapt to Martinez's mix?

Serna vs. Pierce or (32) Suarez. Wherever Magui Serna goes, strangeness follows. Can she pull off another of her upsets?

(17) Smashnova vs. Coetzer. Coetzer, the top unseeded player, won the last meeting between these two non-powerhouses. Can she do it again?

M. Casanova vs. (21) Raymond. Another contest between a skilled young player and a canny veteran. Raymond has been having a tough time lately, too.

The Rankings

It's been a while. Since Wimbledon, in fact. The U. S. Open will mark the first time in two months that every ranking is in play.

Sort of, anyway. Serena Williams could lose the #1 ranking over the next two weeks -- but she'll have to work at it. With sister Venus having won New Haven, Serena's lead in the rankings is about 250 points. Venus has the U. S. Open title to defend; Serena, finalist points. That means that if Venus can defend her title, she might be able to pass Serena -- if Serena loses before the semifinal.

The situation is about the same further down. Venus has more than an 1100 point lead over Jennifer Capriati, but a lot of that is U. S. Open points. If, somehow, Venus loses early, Capriati might be able to get to #2 by reaching the final.

But Capriati has semifinalist points of her own. That puts her hundreds of points ahead of Jelena Dokic and Monica Seles, but they could possibly pass her; both have Round of Sixteen points to defend.

The other player who looks to be in trouble is Martina Hingis, with semifinalist points to defend and drawn to face Monica Seles in the Round of Sixteen and Venus Williams in quarterfinal. (It may be lucky for the WTA that Hingis isn't American; we know people who, in her situation, would be suing them over the injury rules.)

Although the order of players has changed a lot this year, the Top Ten has been almost constant for all of 2002. The current Top Ten -- Serena, Venus, Capriati, Dokic, Seles, Clijsters, Henin, Hingis, Mauresmo, Davenport -- has been the Top Ten list for the entire year, except for a short time when Sandrine Testud was #10. And that seems unlikely to change. Daniela Hantuchova, the #11 player, is 300 points behind Davenport (about 100 safe points), and Davenport has the better draw. Elena Dementieva, at #13 the next active player (Testud is still #12) is 800 points behind Davenport! That means that Hantuchova is the only player with a realistic chance to break into the Top Ten -- and even she has a long, long ways to go.

The lower-ranked player with the most on the line is Daja Bedanova, last year's surprise quarterfinalist (the other seven quarterfinalists were all "usual suspects": Hingis, Davenport, Serena, Clijsters, Venus, Mauresmo, Capriati). Bedanova faces a real possibility of falling out of the Top Thirty.

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The best -- and then some
Serena and Venus Williams stand atop the women's game -- with few challengers in sight


The Miami Herald
BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN
[email protected]

Wanted: A woman who can beat a Williams sister -- or, at least, take a set off one of tennis' nearly invincible siblings. Must possess power and speed. Must be willing to smash balls from corner to corner and face 110 mph serves. Must not be intimidated. Height a plus. Send resume to Women's Tennis Association.

Is there anyone in the world qualified to answer that ad?

Maybe not.

On the eve of the U.S. Open, there is No. 1 Serena Williams and her older sister, No. 2 Venus Williams. And then there is everyone else, wondering how (or if) they can close the gap. It's probably a good thing the three eldest Williams sisters -- Yetunde, 29, Isha, 28, and Lyndrea, 24 -- didn't take up the game. Otherwise, nobody else would get past the quarterfinals.

The Williams sisters have faced each other in the finals of three of the past four Grand Slam tournaments.

Venus won last year's U.S. Open. Serena, who took the French Open and Wimbledon, is favored in this year's Open, which begins Monday, despite tendinitis that flared up in her left knee and a quarterfinal loss to Chanda Rubin earlier this month at Manhattan Beach, Calif. It isn't just that the Williamses are winning, it's how. They have been virtually unchallenged by anyone but each other in recent months. Serena didn't lose a set on the way to the Wimbledon final. Venus lost one.

Amelie Mauresmo, no wisp of a woman, was feeling powerful after knocking off Jennifer Capriati fairly easily in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. She predicted she would give Serena a game. She was pummeled 6-2, 6-1 in 52 minutes, a quarter of the time it takes Serena to braid her hair. Mauresmo said afterward the Williams' domination was ``a little sad for women's tennis.''

Justine Henin, the then-sixth-ranked Belgian, shrugged her shoulders after losing 6-3, 6-2 to Venus in a Wimbledon semifinal. ''What could I do?'' she asked, looking doomed.

No one has a good answer.

''I'm not sure there is a recipe for beating them because I am of the belief that the Williams sisters are a notch above everyone else,'' said Mary Joe Fern?ndez, a retired tennis player and TV commentator. ``When they're at their best, nobody out there can beat them. They have everything. They have speed, power, mental toughness. There are a few players who can challenge them, but none have the whole package. The only way to beat them is if they are having an off day.''

The players with the best chance, Fern?ndez said, are Capriati and Lindsay Davenport, though neither is fully equipped for the challenge. Davenport is coming off a nine-month layoff after knee surgery. Capriati is ranked No. 3, but her game of late is nowhere near the Williamses. She lost in the quarterfinals at Carlsbad, Calif., and Manhattan Beach, and looked out of shape in her loss to Mauresmo at Montreal on Aug. 19.

''Davenport has the power and serve but doesn't move around the court as well, so she has trouble on defense,'' Fern?ndez said. ``Capriati has enough power and speed, but her serve's not there.''

Daniela Hantuchova, the 11th-ranked Slovakian, might be able to beat a Williams sister ''in a couple of years,'' Fern?ndez said.

Former player Pam Shriver believes the Williams sisters are beatable, though she feels they have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. She said Capriati, Davenport, Mauresmo, Henin and Kim Clijsters have enough power and speed to give the Williamses trouble. A healthy Martina Hingis, though short and more of a finesse player, is also a capable opponent. What they lack, Shriver said, is a killer instinct.

''When Mauresmo said the Williams sisters were bad for tennis, that bothered me,'' Shriver said. 'I want to hear the players ranked three through 12 say, `The Williams sisters have rolled out a challenge, and we have to figure out a way to close the gap.' I want to hear upbeat [talk]. Instead, I hear defeatist talk.

``What those sisters have done isn't boring. I'm fascinated when the bar is raised in a sport. All these players have enough talent to get better, and they should want to get better. Chrissy [Evert] wasn't the same type of athlete as Martina [Navratilova], but she found a way to close the gap. She wasn't intimidated. The gap can be closed. Chrissy did it, and these women can, too.''

Navratilova agrees. Yes, the Williams sisters are better than everyone else, but the rest of women's tennis doesn't have to sit by and watch. And, she said, other players certainly shouldn't criticize the siblings for their success.

''If they had been boys, they would be No. 1 and 2 in the men's rankings because they're just the best and biggest athletes,'' Navratilova told The London Times during Wimbledon. ``People always look for the negative. They said [Bjorn] Borg was unemotional, that [John] McEnroe was a brat, that Evert was a metronome, that I won too easily, that [Steffi] Graf just had a big forehand.

``Now the Williams sisters are criticized for being too strong. All they've done is move the game on. People should admire the virtues and the excellence.

``They have the combination of strength and speed, and that's what the others have to match.''

In the meantime, it's Williams and Williams.

Get used to it.

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