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Australian Open 2003



January 5, 2003 Womens Number 1 Tennis player Serena Williams arrives at Melbourne airport from Perth. Qanas worker Con Vlahogiannis has Serena sign his safety jacket. Pic Kelly Barnes ex melb Tennis

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January 5, 2003 Serena Williams and cousin Justice at Melbourne Park. PIC FIONA HAMILTON Tennis / VIC

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Overseas stars relax before Australian Open
Herald Sun
By JACKIE EPSTEIN and SANDRA PETERSON
Posted on 5 January 2003 (+7GMT)



Testing the water: Serena Williams chilled out in the pool before her match-winning performance against Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik in the Hopman Cup final yesterday.
Picture: Alf Sorbello

Tennis's big guns are preparing to gather in Melbourne for the Australian Open and women's No. 1 Serena Williams is already making a big splash.

Williams, 21, cut a stunning figure relaxing by the pool before she and fellow American James Blake beat Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik 3-0 in yesterday's Hopman Cup final in Perth.
And at Melbourne Airport, Andre Agassi looked every bit the contented family man as he arrived with son Jaden Gill, 15 months, and wife Steffi Graf.

Williams, dressed in a white halter-neck bikini and elaborate belly-button jewellery, showed off her remarkable physique as she relaxed with members of her entourage, including sister Lyndrea Price and niece Justus Bobbitt. But there was no sign of her mother, Oracene, who is also travelling with her daughter.

When the French, Wimbledon and US Open champion wasn't chatting on her mobile phone, she took a brief dip with Justus, had Lyndrea rub lotion on her back, brushed her hair and asked her friends what she looked like in a silky head scarf.

But while she's supremely confident on court, Williams was a little less certain in the water -- despite Perth's 36C-degree day.
Earlier Williams went hunting for clothes in a ritzy Perth shopping strip and was happy to talk to fans.

She will arrive in Melbourne today.

Meanwhile seven times grand slam tournament winner Agassi, 32, looked relaxed after his flight and told fans he felt good.

He arrived at Tullamarine just before 11am and will start preparations for the Australian Open at a traditional lead-up tournament -- the Commonwealth Bank International, which starts at Kooyong on Wednesday.

It is Agassi's first trip to Australia since he abruptly ended his bid for a third successive Australian Open title the night before the tournament was due to begin last year.

Agassi said he had aggravated an old wrist injury against Pete Sampras in the Commonwealth Bank final at Kooyong. Sampras has withdrawn from this year's Kooyong event.

Other confirmed competitors in the Commonwealth Bank International include Mark Philippoussis, Thomas Johansson, Sebastien Grosjean -- who also arrived in Melbourne yesterday -- Alex Corretja, Andrei Pavel and Richard Gasquet

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post #7 of 310 (permalink) Old Jan 6th, 2003, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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SERENA HITS TOWN BUT MONICA TAKES CENTRE STAGE
Monday, 6 January, 2003

The state of play in womens tennis as it stands may suggest that Serena Williams stands head and shoulders above the rest, what with her three straight grand slam victories heading into Australian Open 2003, but at Melbourne Park, Monica Seles still holds sway.

So while Williams was sweating it out in steam bath conditions on Court Two on Monday, Seles was enjoying the relative comfort of the centre court at Rod Laver Arena in her first serious workout since arriving in Melbourne.

Williams may be the undisputed queen of the game, but Seles is a four-time champion at Melbourne Park and boasts an awesome 42-3 record since first contesting the Open in 1991.

She might just be the most popular womens player to have played at Melbourne Park and with the start of the tournament still seven days away, was enjoying being the centre of attention.

"Oh, it's great to be back. I love being here and it's great to be injury free," she said, playing down reports of a foot injury suffered while playing a warm-up event in Hong Kong last week.

"I started practicing a lot and when you get back (on the court) it plays up a little bit, but we have great physiotherapists at the WTA so I'll be in good hands this week."

At 29, Seles is truly in the veteran class and her build-up to the Australian Open is deliberately low-key. This is why she has bypassed Sydney's adidas International this week - the traditional tune-up for so many of the women players.

"I think at this stage of my career it's important to take off the week before Melbourne and just rest because the conditions here are tough and they take a toll on your body," she said.

"I had my matches in Hong Kong. If I was 18 I would have played Sydney, but I'm 29 and I have to save all my energy."

The Rebound Ace courts at Melbourne are reported to be faster this year and doubtless, plenty of her colleagues will weigh in with their assessment of the court speed before the championship has ended. Seles herself noted that they appeared a touch faster this year. "But each year is a bit different. I remember one year when they were really fast and everyone complainedˇ_I'm really happy with it."

So why the love affair with Rebound Ace? "It bounces a lot higher and you have to adjust your footwork because the ball doesn't come to you; you have to get to the ball.Every year you have one or two ankle injuries here but there's so much give for your body, which is great compared to hard courts."

Seles made the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2002. She eliminated Venus Williams in three sets in a memorable quarter-final before losing to Hingis in the semis. Hingis lost to Jennifer Capriati in the final and then womens tennis was engulfed by the phenomenon that was Serena Williams. And Seles couldn't help but be a fan.

"Last year Serena was the undisputed champion and was really amazing. If she can do that again this year then all power to her. Very few athletes could do that...so to do it in this competition was great. But on the other hand, it was great to see someone like Kim (Clijsters) beat both of them (Serena and Venus)."

"The great thing about womens tennis is that every year, there are more and more talented players. There are so many girls that are tall and can hit the ball."

But if history teaches a lesson, it is that despite all that, they still won't get the better of Monica Seles in Melbourne.

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post #8 of 310 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2003, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Serena Sets Sights on Australian Dream
Tue January 7, 2003 03:54 AM ET

By Ossian Shine
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - She has already got a name for it -- the 'Serena slam' -- and says she wants to go the entire year unbeaten.

But she also says tennis is not so important, and that she is an aspiring actress, attending readings and looking at scripts.

She is a devotee of the fashion industry who sets tongues wagging with her outfits and sports a diamond as big as a peach stone in her belly button.

Serena Williams is many, many things. Often contradictory, often over-confident and almost always larger than life.

She is not, however, the possessor of an Australian Open singles crown.

Beneath the celebrity behavior, behind all the hyperbole and all the tall tales, it is the Australian title she now covets most.

"My main dream now is the Australian Open," she smiles when pushed about her goals for the year. "I have never been able to win here, but I would like to try. Let's just see what happens."

WILLIAMS PHENOMENON

Williams led the United States to a crushing Hopman Cup victory over hosts Australia last weekend and did not lose a set all week.

One of her victims was world number four Kim Clijsters who managed to win eight games in a one-sided beating.

Still, though, Williams insists: "I'm far from my best right now. I haven't begun to play my best at all so I have a long way to go. I'm sure everyone is excited to hear that."

If the claim is kidology, she need hardly bother. If it is true then organizers could almost hand her the trophy before the tournament starts next Monday.

She missed the opening grand slam of the year in 2002 with an ankle injury sustained in Sydney.

This year she has shunned that event to practise with elder sister and world number two Venus in Melbourne.

"There is much I need to improve this year, my groundstrokes, my serve, my return, my coming to the net. Lots of stuff," she explains.

Those words must be enough to fill the rest of the WTA Tour with dread. The younger of the Williams phenomenon holds the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, having beaten Venus in the final of all three.

SERENA SLAM

She won eight of the 13 tournaments she played last year and is still not content.

"I am insatiable," she laughs, when asked if her goals are achievable. "I am never where I want to be, never satisfied."

Victory in Melbourne would be sure to put a smile on her face, though. It would give her the oft-mentioned "Serena slam."

It would give her a title at a tournament in which she has so far never progressed beyond the quarter-finals, an atypically poor record that is clearly beginning to rankle.

It would also make Williams the first player to win four consecutive grand slam titles since Steffi Graf won her fourth on the trot at Melbourne in 1994 having won the 1993 French, Wimbledon and U.S. titles.

In short, it would write the Serena Williams legend even larger in the tennis record books.

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post #9 of 310 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2003, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Capriati: Don't mention Serena
Herald Sun
By PAUL MALONE
Posted on 8 January 2003 (+7GMT)

"WILLIAMS" has become a four-letter word for Jennifer Capriati as she heads to Melbourne to put her Australian Open defence back on track.

Capriati yesterday point-blank refused to discuss Serena Williams and her domination of women's tennis after defeat in an erratic opening match at Sydney's adidas International.

Asked if Serena Williams's declaration that her 2003 goal was to go undefeated had acted as motivation, she said: "I just answer questions about my game. I have no comment about that."

The 154cm Russian Tatiana Panova, 30cm shorter and 20kg lighter than Venus Williams, pestered and harassed Capriati to a 6-4 4-6 7-5 second-round defeat.

The World No.3 had answered questions guardedly about the Williams sisters as recently as November, when she lost to Serena for a fifth consecutive time in 20020 in the semi-finals of the WTA Championships.

Capriati took some comfort from the "Groundhog Day" feel of her loss to Panova in a hot, blustery Sydney wind, as she had crashed in similar conditions to a first-up loss to Alexandra Stevenson in her 2002 season pipe-opener and retained her Open title.

The American hit 14 double-faults and 64 unforced errors as she fell short of the super-human stamina which helped her win the 2002 final against Martina Hingis in a heatwave.

"It's been pretty cold at home (Florida) so I'm not really as used to the heat as I usually am," said Capriati, who said she felt as advanced in her preparation for the year's first grand slam event as 2002. "I have trouble with this tournament every year, so that's why I don't let it get me down too much.

"Of course, I'm confident (about an Open hat-trick). Last year, I had a loss here also. It starts over in a grand slam."

Anna Kournikova's 118th WTA tournament came and went yesterday when she skidded to a 6-4 2-6 6-1 defeat by Slovakian Janette Husarova.

Husarova, ranked No. 33, only five places better than Kournikova, tore through the third set in 20 minutes due to a procession of groundstroke errors from the Russian pin-up.

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Serena eyes missing crown
By Linda Pearce
January 2 2003




Trophy time ... Serena Williams


Less is more in at least one respect for Serena Williams, as she prepares for the only grand slam tournament missing from her full title set. At most, Williams will have two further singles matches before the Australian Open, although, clearly, her preference for practice has served her rather well lately.

The leading player in the women's game will spend next week hitting at Melbourne Park with her sister and closest rival, Venus, who is due to arrive from Florida on Monday. Having decided against a return to Sydney, where the younger Williams's Australian campaign started and finished last year with an ankle sprain that may have cost her the coveted grand slam, the Hopman Cup is her only pre-open appearance.

"I don't really play that many matches anyway, I don't play that many tournaments, and I always play well with fewer matches under my belt," said Williams, after yesterday combining with James Blake for a 3-0 US rout of Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual and Tommy Robredo.

"I'm practising very well; it's just a matter of it coming along in the matches, but I'm not trying to peak too soon," she said.

Predictably and sensibly, the 21-year-old has not extended herself greatly so far, with undemanding victories over Iroda Tulyaganova (ranked 55th) and Ruano Pascual (65th). Neither is in the Williams class, nor even the same school, but at least the world No1 has had a couple of hours of matchplay, which is the main idea.


"I'm far from my best right now," Williams said. "I haven't even begun to play my best at all, so I have a long way to go. I'm sure everyone is excited to hear that."

Or intimidated, anyway, although perhaps except for Kim Clijsters, the world No4 who inflicted the last of the five defeats Williams suffered in 2002, at the year-end WTA Championships in Los Angeles.

Tomorrow's rematch appeals as the week's standout women's contest, even if Williams sounded the tiniest bit patronising when the subject was raised.

"I've been looking forward to that since I came here," Williams said. "Last time we played I was so tired, I had no energy, but [Clijsters] is playing great, and it's nice to see her doing so well. She's such a nice girl."

Williams insists she's in far better mental and physical shape than she was in November, when she claimed she finished the season feeling "98 years old". Never mind that she played only 13 tournaments - just half a year for Blake, as he jokingly pointed out - for, when you win eight of the 13, less can truly be more.

"Honestly, I'm feeling better than I was then," Williams said. "Oh my gosh, it was too much, too much tennis at the end of the year and mentally I was shot, and physically I was dead.I was playing too much, and I was really focused.

"I mean, 13 tournaments for me is a lot - it was my first time playing all those many tournaments directly."

The solution? "Stop winning all the time!" advised Blake, tongue-in-cheek, having himself just beaten Robredo 6-3, 6-0. "That's why I don't find it that hard - you only play, like, one or two matches. If you win every tournament, 13 tournaments is a lot. Mine's a little easier, I just lose first round."

Not quite, and certainly not for Williams, who compiled a 56-5 record last year, and carries ambitions for an unblemished record into the next.

She also has ambitions in another field, having

spent part of her brief off-season pursuing acting roles - a cameo in a prime-time US sitcom, a small film part, chats with Oprah and Jay Leno and a video appearance for rapper Memphis Bleek. Williams likes to call herself a "struggling actress"- although not too many battlers can afford a $2.5 million apartment on the US west coast.

While she may be struggling for impact on the screen - "I've been really trying to get the roles, and get the parts, and read scripts," William said - in tennis terms, she has everything except the Australian Open.

More or less.

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post #11 of 310 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2003, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Serena, Hewitt Named Top Seeds for Australian Open
Venus, Capriati Follow in Women's Draw


SportsTicker

MELBOURNE, Australia (Jan. 8) -- Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Serena Williams of the United States were named the No. 1 seeds Wednesday for the men's and women's singles events at the Australian Open.

Hewitt earned the top seed at the year's first Grand Slam tournament by finishing as the world No. 1 for the second straight year. The Adelaide native is the reigning Wimbledon and Tennis Masters Cup champion.

Williams captured the final three Grand Slam events last year. She will be gunning for her first Australian Open title and claim what she has dubbed the "Serena Slam."

Andre Agassi of the United States is the second seed in the men's draw. Russian Marat Safin and Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya round out the top five.

On the women's side, Venus Williams -- Serena's older sister -- is the second seed and is followed by fellow American Jennifer Capriati. Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne are next.

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LLEYTON & SERENA TOP AUSTRALIAN OPEN SEEDINGS
Wednesday, 8 January, 2003


Australian Open 2003 seedings were announced today with World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt topping the men's list. In doing so Hewitt becomes the first Aussie to earn the top seeding position back-to-back at the tournament in the Open Era.

Hewitt finished last year ranked No.1 in the world and captured his second successive Tennis Masters Cup title in Shanghai in November to add to his Wimbledon Championship win in July.

Former Australian Open champion Andre Agassi (seeded 2) is aiming to be the first non-Australian to win a fourth title in Melbourne. Seeded 3 is last year's finalist Marat Safin with another Russian, 1999 champion and 2001 runner-up Yevgeny Kafelnikov (22), also making the seedings list.

Spain is again well represented through Masters Cup finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero (4), Australian Open finalist (1997) and Hewitt nemesis Carlos Moya (5), 2002 French Open Champion Albert Costa (8), former World No.2 Alex Corretja (15) and Tommy Robredo (26).

Young guns Andy Roddick and James Blake, seeded 9 and 23 respectively, will be representing a new generation of American stars. Blake has already made a great start to the year by defeating Lleyton Hewitt en route to winning the Hopman Cup with team mate Serena Williams in Perth.

In the women's draw Serena Williams will top the seedings for the first time in Melbourne. Williams, winner of the last three Grand Slam titles of 2002, is hoping to capture her first Australian Open title and in doing so claim what she has christened the 'Serena Slam'.

Venus Williams is seeded No.2 and defending champion Jennifer Capriati follows at No.3. Belgium's Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne are seeded 4 and 5 respectively with four time women's singles winner Monica Seles (1991-93, '96) seeded 6.

Rising star Daniela Hantuchova has her highest seeding in a Grand Slam at 7 and Australian Open 2000 winner Lindsay Davenport is back after missing 2002 through injury and is seeded 9.

The Australian Open Draw will take place in the Melbourne Park Function Centre on Friday 10 January at 10.30 and will be broadcast live on Seven Network.


AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2003
MEN'S AND WOMEN'S SEEDS
1. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) 1. Serena Williams (USA)
2. Andre Agassi (USA) 2. Venus Williams (USA)
3. Marat Safin (RUS) 3. Jennifer Capriati (USA)
4. Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) 4. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
5. Carlos Moya (ESP) 5. Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL)
6. Roger Federer (SUI) 6. Monica Seles (USA)
7. Jiri Novak (CZE) 7. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
8. Albert Costa (ESP) 8. Anastasia Myskina (RUS)
9. Andy Roddick (USA) 9. Lindsay Davenport (USA)
10. David Nalbandian (ARG) 10. Chanda Rubin (USA)
11. Paradorn Srichaphan (THA) 11. Magdalena Maleeva (BUL)
12. Sebastien Grosjean (FRA) 12. Patty Schnyder (SUI)
13. Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 13. Silvia Farina Elia (ITA)
14. Guillermo Canas (ARG) 14. Anna Pistolesi (ISR)
15. Alex Corretja (ESP) 15. Alexandra Stevenson (USA)
16. Sjeng Schalken (NED) 16. Nathalie Dechy (FRA)
17. Gaston Gaudio (ARG) 17. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
18. Younes El Aynaoui (MAR) 18. Eleni Daniilidou (GRE)
19. Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) 19. Amanda Coetzer (RSA)
20. Xavier Malisse (BEL) 20. Elena Bovina (RUS)
21. Andrei Pavel (ROM) 21. Ai Sugiyama (JPN)
22. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) 22. Anne Kremer (LUX)
23. James Blake (USA) 23. Paola Suarez (ARG)
24. Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) 24. Tatiana Panova (RUS)
25. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 25. Meghann Shaughnessy (USA)
26. Tommy Robredo (ESP) 26. Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA)
27. Jan-Michael Gambill (USA) 27. Lisa Raymond (USA)
28. Fabrice Santoro (FRA) 28. Clarisa Fernandez (ARG)
29. Nicolas Escude (FRA) 29. Iva Majoli (CRO)
30. Gustavo Kuerten (BRA) 30. Janette Husarova (SVK)
31. Rainer Schuettler (GER) 31. Conchita Martinez (ESP)
32. Stefan Koubek (AUT) 32. Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)

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