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By Richard Pagliaro - Jennifer Capriati faces her toughest opponent every time she faces her reflection. The newly-crowned No. 1 is in Italy after signing a three-year contract <br />extension with Fila. In an interview with the media, Capriati said conquering her fears, self-doubt and self-destructive tendencies were the keys to completing her fairy-tale comeback from near-career self destruction to <br />her prominent place atop the tennis world.

"I think I am definitely my own worst enemy and my hardest opponent to play," said Capriati. "It was only when I started to get past the fears and get my confidence back that it changed. I decided there was already enough competition that was hard enough and so I did not want to make it harder for myself."

The 25-year-old Capriati has produced one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history. The 1992 gold medalist was later arrested for shoplifting and served a stint in rehab. Plagued by personal problems, she dropped off the tour from September, 1993 to November, 1994.

<br />Despite the personal problems that threatened to prematurely end a promising career, Capriati persevered to become the ninth woman in history to hold the No. 1 ranking since the computer ranking system began on November 3, 1975. She joins a distinguished group that includes Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Lindsay Davenport and Hingis. For Capriati the long climb to No. 1 is the realization of a dream and confirmation of her competitive spirit.

"There was never a time when I thought I could not get back," said Capriati. "But there were some moments when I thought it would be difficult. But it's my nature to fight hard and always get what I want. So it was just a matter of time and finally I was rewarded. But it was not only me but the help of my family and my father."

In less than a year, Capriati has gone from an often overlooked challenger to a Grand Slam champion. When she views the landscape of capable contenders, she sees several strong players capable of threatening her throne.

"Hingis, the Williams sisters (Venus and Serena), Monica (Seles), (Lindsay) Davenport — they are still threats," said Capriati. "As long as I am playing they will all still be around."
 
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