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Capriati: Is traveling under the radar her best option?

By Eleanor Preston
Special to *******************



Siggi Bucher
FROM THE TELECOM ITALIA MASTERS IN ROME – No one could ever accuse Jennifer Capriati of being anonymous. From the moment she burst onto the scene as a precociously talented teenager, Capriati has always collected headlines of various hues. From salacious discussion of the youthful indiscretions which followed her first fall from grace to the tributes which poured in when she finally turned her career around, Capriati has always been one to capture notoriety.

These days, at 27 years of age, Capriati is happier now that she's finally found a formula to stay out of the limelight. Keen to just go about her business as a professional tennis player away from the flashbulbs and headlines, Capriati turns down interview requests, fulfills only the minimum of her sponsors' obligations and answers the obligatory post-match questions with brisk efficiency. It's hard to imagine Capriati holding court at one of those giggly, lighthearted press conferences that the Williams sisters or Kim Clijsters frequently hold court at with journalists.

After the highs and lows she has experienced with the media few would blame Capriati for wanting to dip below the radar.

Nevertheless, it may not be the best decision for her tennis. With the hegemony of the Williamses still unchallenged, and Clijsters widely regarded as the only hope of breaking the cycle of Venus and Serena finals, not to mention the ever present threat from Justine Henin-Hardenne and Amelie Mauresmo, Capriati is in real danger of slipping out of mind as well as out of sight.

FOCUSED ... BUT ON WHAT?
Against Mauresmo in the quarterfinals in Rome, Capriati did as she always does. She fought, she dug deep, she patched into her livewire emotions and fed off her anger at line-calls, mobile phones and anything else that got in her way. In many ways the match (a high-quality affair which included a fifteen-minute tiebreak at the end of the second set) was classic Capriati.

There was plenty of the grittiness which saw her save four match points against Martina Hingis in the '02 Australian Open final; there was the dogged resistance from the baseline that saw off Clijsters in the '01 Roland Garros final; it was all there. But it wasn't enough.

Tthere was something missing, as though a little of the hunger had gone. Mauresmo, despite (as ever) battling her nerves and handing Capriati errors at crucial moments, proved she wanted it more and moved into the semifinals with a 6-3, 7-6 victory. The loss to a class player like Mauresmo is hardly a reason to write off Capriati's career but with the French Open just a drop shot away, it was hardly a bolster for her confidence.



Susan Mullane/
Camerawork USA, Inc.
Most tellingly of all, Capriati was passive in her tactics and uncharacteristically content to stay well behind the baseline and allow Mauresmo to dictate. She may be a former Roland Garros champion but the usually aggressive Capriati is anything but a clay court backboard, waiting for others to call the tune.

"I've got to do more and come out from the start," said Capriati afterwards. "I've just got to do more on those opportunities. I definitely could have done things a little bit differently – been moreaggressive and stepped up to the ball."

TIME TO STEP UP
Capriati is going to have to start stepping up to the ball – both metaphorically and literally – if she wants to keep pace with the younger generation and dispel the growing impression that she is satisfied with her haul of three Grand Slam titles.

She has both the experience and the game to add either another French Open, a first Wimbledon or US Open titles to her collection, but only if, as before, she is ready to defy the odds.

It would be too dramatic to describe her current period of ennui as a slump, and there is certainly no need for another Lazarus-like comeback. It is time, though, that Capriati started to get herself noticed again. After all, she has never been one for the quiet life.
 

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Capriati can't go under the radar. She couldn't go under the radar when she was ranked 100th in the world.
 

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thats true...Jennifer will do many things but if anything shell go out LOUD PROUD AND WITH THE CROWD! with that in mind...no Jennifer will not go under the radar...but what the article was saying was that she needs to step it up a notch...and she does she needs to find that extra strength ...which by all accounts is all that is seperating her from those top 3 girls...Jen will always be of the best because she WAS the best at one point...and KNOWONE can take that away from her....IF she wants to she can be #1 but she HAS to want to be #1 and i dont think she thinks she has what it takes...baby shes wrong then cause i know she has the weapons! Jen KICK SOME ASS!
 

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I agree with Trish but In a way I think its good that she lost in the quaters - she'll have extra time to prepare for RG and she knows she has to step it up even more. Im not even going to doubt her for RG because whenever people think she does nt have a chance - she wins! GO JEN I STILL BELIEVE IN YOU!
 

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It was a tough loss for Jen but at least she know's why she lost and what went wrong! Shit she played so deffensive against Momo i couldn't believe how far she stood behinde the baseline! But anyways i havent lost faith and i think we might all get a shock in RG!
 
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