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Capriati Downs Dementieva To Advance To Quarterfinals


Photo By Susan Mullane By Adrianna Outlaw
09/01/2003

It was an open and shut story for fans who dealt with the day-long drizzle dousing the National Tennis Center by exercising their umbrellas. The inclement conditions complicated matters a bit more for Jennifer Capriati, who shook off a series of rain delays before surging into the U.S. Open quarterfinals with a soggy straight sets win.


A long Labor Day overtime shift that spilled into night saw the sixth-seeded Capriati defeat Elena Dementieva, 6-2, 7-5, in a match that produced one hour and 12 minutes of play staged over nearly nine hours due to a series of suspensions in play.

The prospect of interruption proved inspiring for Capriati, who was beginning to feel the returning rain when she bent low and blasted a biting backhand directly at Dementieva. And when the collision of ball and racquet was complete, Dementieva’s volley of self-protection propelled the ball wide of the side line and Capriati was raising her right fist in victory already appearing ready to fight another day.

"It was starting to come again a little bit and I said ‘No, please not again’," Capriati said. "I should motivate myself like that more often."

The two-time Australian Open champion advanced to her third consecutive quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows. An inviting draw casts Capriati against either 15th-seeded Japanese Ai Sugiyama or 29th-seeded Italian Francesca Schiavone for a spot in the semifinals. The Sugiyama-Schiavone fourth-round match was tied at one when play was suspended due to rain.

The 27-year-old Capriati, who was a U.S. Open semifinalist in 1991 and 2001, will be a decided favorite against either opponent in the quarters.

"I’m hoping they play all night," Capriati said. "Schiavone plays with looping top spin and Sugiyama plays fast and hard. I’ve played them both before and done well so I’m ready to play either one again."

Rain delayed the start of play for two hours and 44 minutes and when the faintly falling precipitation finally came to a complete stop, Capriati quickly appeared on Arthur Ashe Stadium court where she warmed up with Taylor Dent, who was scheduled to play top-seeded Andre Agassi in the second match of the day session.

As a curtain of clouds shrouded the sky, Capriati stormed out to a 4-0, 40-30 lead when rain suspended play after 11 minutes. In the extended intermission that followed, Capriati crashed on a couch for a mid-match nap. She awoke to eventually extend her lead to 5-0 hours after the match began. Dementieva fought off set points in the sixth and seventh games before netting a backhand down the line as Capriati collected the set, 6-2.

With "Friends" star Matthew Perry sitting next to her father and coach, Stefano, Capriati took a 3-2 second set lead before another rain delay. She stretched the lead to 4-2 and appeared on the verge of closing out the match when Dementieva found her range with her forceful forehand. The 2000 U.S. Open semifinalist broke Capriati’s serve then held at 30 to even the set.

Frequently finding the lines with flat returns, that eluded Capriati, Dementieva broke at love for a 5-4 lead.

Slapping her thigh to shake some life in her legs, Capriati cracked a forehand winner crosscourt to reach triple break point. When a Dementieva forehand floated long, Capriati had her sixth service break of the match and was back on serve at five-all.

The sharp strokes Capriati executes, combined with the intensity etched across her face, makes it seems as if she carries a personal vendetta against the oncoming ball sometimes. Her strokes have always been among the best in the sport and Capriati’s renewed commitment to conditioning now enables her to set up for her shots and play the percentages with power. She still plays with the speed of someone rushing to beat the rain, and she stepped into the second week of the Open playing with the purpose of one who plans to get her feet wet in her first Flushing final.
 

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Jen :hearts:

I wish the article would ahve given Elena more credit though!
 

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Just watched the match on eurosport!!
I must say that I was really impressed with Capriati's play although she appeared a bit sloppy at times. She played pretty aggressive out there which is a good thing! Hope she can go all the way :)

BTW: Have to say she looked great :drool:
 

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yes she played more aggressive than usual and i liked that:there were moments in which I thought to see Jim Courier playing...
I hope she will play like yesterday 'till the end of the tournment...if the rain allows to play...
 

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I'm a big Jen and Elena fan, I wish it would have gone to a third so I could see some more of them.

I wanted both to win, Elena cos she is overdue for a big Slam breakthrough and where better than the USO, her furst big career break, but also Jen, as she is nearing the end of her career and this USO would make it even sweeter.

Well Jen, do us proud and take the USO!
 

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Personally, I never saw Elena as a real threat in that match and mainly because her serve was so terrible! Why doesn't this girl get a coach to help her with her serve? My god, even Stevenson's serve is better. I do think Elena possesses the game to be a top 5 contender, but that serve really needs a lot of work.

Jen controlled that match from the beginning. It was her sloppy play that gave Elena a chance to take it to a third set. Still, I am happy for both. I am happy to see Jennifer in the quarterfinals playing aggressive tennis and I am happy to see Elena make consecutive fourth round appearances at grand slam events even with that serve.
 
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