Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: A galaxy far far Away
My article on the Jen/Serena match
Bad calls didn't cost Serena
Paris, June 2004. Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams were playing a third set in the French Open quarterfinals. Suddenly, it was matchpoint. Capriati hit a winner off the baseline and celebrated her win over the six time Grand Slam winner. But hold on. The linesperson called the shot out. Williams was quick to tell the umpire that the ball had been called out, even though replays showed the ball had touched the line. The chair umpire overruled and said the match point be played again.
While Capriati's father Stefano screamed over the call like a five year old who had just been told he couldn't go to Disney World, his daughter quickly composed herself and won the match on the next point. Had Williams won that point, Capriati would have faced a break point and could have lost the match.
Now fast forward three months.
Flushing Meadows, New York. Capriati and Williams were, as usual, starting another third set, when the chair umpire made one of the worst calls of the tournament, giving Capriati breakpoint. Williams clearly had a clean winner that the linesperson called in. Williams won the next point, however, nobody knows if Williams would have won the point had she been given the correct call. She would have served earlier, in a different frame of mind.
Bad calls are a part of sport and unfortunetly, they played a part in last night's match. However, they didn't determine the outcome, as the worst call of the match came at the beginning of the set and not on match point as it had in their match at Roland Garros when Capriati was on the wrong end of the call.
While many people have blamed bad calls for the outcome, others have complimented Capriati's play, which was crisp and smart in the second and third sets. After being dominated by Williams in the first set, Capriati opened up the second set with a service break and held onto serve for the rest of the set, which she won 6-4.
Capriati, who is often criticised for not using strategy on the court, showed plenty of on court-smarts in her win over Williams. Capriati changed up the pace by hitting slice backhands throughout the match. Williams began to make more unforced errors and Capriati played strong defense and made fewer unforced errors.
Williams had breakpoint opportunities on many of Capriati's service games, which she couldn't convert. She also committed 57 unforced errors, which contributed to her loss, far more than the few bad linecalls did.
Instead of focus on the negativity, people should talk about the positives. This was the best Serena/Jennifer match since their semifinal encounter at the 2002 WTA Tour Championships, which Williams won in three sets. Capriati also showed a lot of heart to be able to serve out the match after not being able to against Monica Seles, Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin-Hardenne in previous Open matches. Williams, too should be commended for her grace and good sportsmanship.
This was a match that deserves to be remembered for the efforts of its players and not a few miscues from the umpire and linespeople. Both women fought to the end and played as hard as they could and provided fans with another classic that will be shown again for years to come.