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Bravery inspires Jennifer

By Karen Lyon

An unassuming 26-year-old cancer sufferer has been revealed as the inspiration behind Jennifer Capriati's sensational comeback victory to steal her second consecutive Australian Open title yesterday.

Darren Bartholomeusz, from the outer north-western Melbourne suburb of Hillside, found himself the centre of attention when Capriati singled him out for special thanks during her victory speech after defeating Martina Hingis in a gripping women's final.

"I was struggling on the court today but it's no comparison to a lot of the friends who I have who are struggling right now, and especially one in particular right now, I'd like to say, Darren, thanks for coming and I love you," she said.

Capriati has formed a special bond with CanTeen - the organisation which helps young sufferers of cancer.

She said later her friend Darren was in her thoughts while she sweltered through the three-set marathon out on centre court, realising her trials were nothing compared to his.

Darren has attended all of Capriati's matches during the tournament and when it seemed he would not be able to attend yesterday's final, he made the defending champion a video, simply telling Capriati, she was a legend or in slang, as he put it, "a ledge".

Darren suffers from bone cancer and has been told by his doctors the illness is too far advanced for medical help, so he simply refuses treatment, choosing to fight in his own way.

Because Capriati, the world's No1 tennis player, believes in him, he has found the strength to fight.

The pair became friends when Darren was offered tickets by Capriati's mother, Denise, to attend the Open a couple of years ago.

He was stunned by his friend's public show of affection. Although his hearing is severely affected by the cancer, Darren's family and friends told him of Capriati's speech.

"I can't believe it. For her to say such words, nobody has ever said such words," he said.

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Thanks for the article.:) One thing I think all Jenn fans will agree is that we are fed up with the word 'comeback'.:(
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