Serena Williams has been seeded number one in the women`s Telecom Italia Masters event, which starts on Monday. The younger of the two Williams sisters, who went all the way in Rome in 2002, is drawn to meet French star and number two seed Amelie Mauresmo in next weekend`s final. Amelie has played three final in Rome (2000, 2001 and 2003) but has never lifted the title. The top two are followed in the seedings list by Russia`s Anastasia Myskina and Nadia Petrova, on-form American Jennifer Capriati, Elena Dementieva, again from Russia, Japan`s Ai Sugiyama and the fourth Russian in the top eight: Vera Zvonareva. This group go straight through to the second round in the main draw.The world`s top two playes by ranking, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, have withdrawn from this year`s event with injuries. The women`s qualifying event is already underway. Today and tomorrow are "Ladies` Days" at the Foro Italico: women looking to watch the qualifiers get in for free.
ROME - For the second straight week, the stars of the WTA Tour will be in Tier I action on the European red clay, this time setting their sights on Rome for the Telecom Italia Masters.
Defending champion Kim Clijsters was expecting a return to the Foro Italico for another title run before she reaggrevated an injury to her left wrist and subsequently was forced to withdraw.
That left 2002 winner Serena Williams as the tournament's top seed and favorite to win her second title of the year. Williams will be playing for the first time since Charleston, where she withdrew midway through the event with an injury to her left knee. Williams missed the last five months of 2003 and first 11 weeks of this year recovering from surgery to that same knee that was performed last August.
Now, with three weeks of rest for her knee, Williams returns for her fourth tournament of the year and will face either veteran Frenchwoman Sandrine Testud or Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo in her second round match.
Amelie Mauresmo got a bit of a break on Sunday in Berlin when she was awarded her first title of the year when Venus Williams was unable to compete in the final due to an ankle injury. Now, the No.2 seed is hoping she can make it back-to-back Tier I titles in Rome.
The Frenchwoman has come close to the Rome title on three separate occasions. In 2000, she lost a straight sets final to Monica Seles and returned to following year to finish runner-up to Jelena Dokic after another loss in two sets. Mauresmo made her third trip to the final last year where she looked well on her way to the title after winning the first set before losing a second set tiebreak and eventually the third set to Clijsters.
Mauresmo will face either countrywoman Nathalie Dechy or Peru's Kristina Brandi in her second round match, but her biggest early-round challenge might come in the third round. Berlin semifinalist Karolina Sprem or No.13 seed Conchita Martinez could possibly await Mauresmo in the round of 16.
Sprem strung together a solid week in Berlin en route to her first Tier I semifinal, while Martinez is a four-time winner in Rome and has a 39-8 career record at the tournament. She has also only loss before the quarterfinals three times in 12 trips to the event.
In her first tournament action since Indian Wells, Anastasia Myskina made it to the quarterfinals in Berlin before she fell to American Jennifer Capriati. This week, Myskina will be the No.3 seed but her first match might be a tough one. Myskina could potentially face Frenchwoman Emilie Loit in the second round, who has already won two titles on clay this year.
No.4 seed Nadia Petrova will try to rebound from a third round loss last week against Paola Suarez when she makes her third main draw appearance in Rome. The young Russian will once again be in search of her first WTA Tour title and will begin her bid for the Rome trophy in the second round where she'll face either American Laura Granville or Italy's Flavia Pennetta.
After taking a thumping in last week's semifinals, No.5 seed Jennifer Capriati would like nothing better than a smooth recovery in Rome. The American got clobbered, 62 60 against Mauresmo in Berlin and will face Maria Vento-Kabchi or a qualifier in her first Rome match. Capriati will be making her 11th appearance in Rome. Her previous best finish was a semifinal in 2002 where she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams.
The Telecom Italia Masters has been played since 1930 and has been a Tier I event on the WTA Tour since 1989. Previous champions include Evonne Goolagong, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, Monica Seles, Conchita Martinez, Mary Pierce, Martina Hingis and Venus Williams.
Both are among the eight top-seeded players at the Italian Open, so they had Monday off.
Williams won at the Foro Italico in 2002, using that victory as a stepping stone for her "Serena Slam," a streak of four straight wins in majors through the 2003 Australian Open.
After winning Wimbledon last year, however, Williams had knee surgery and missed eight months. She came back to the tour in March and won right away, at the Nasdaq-100 Open. Two tournaments later, her knee began to bother her again, and she pulled out of last month's event in Charleston, S.C.
Now Williams says she is pain-free again.
"For the first time in the past two weeks, the first tournament in eight-nine months, I actually was running and jumping for balls and actually running instead of jogging without realizing it," she said. "I told my dad, 'Oh, wait a minute. I'm not even thinking about it."'
Williams is thinking about the upcoming Grand Slams.
"It's a huge inspiration, especially Roland Garros. I'm just excited to be there and compete again," she said. "And obviously I love Wimbledon, so I really can't wait to go to London and compete."
Capriati is excited, too.
"This is the highlight of the year," she said. "I'm on the rise and getting back to playing good tennis."
Capriati's run in Berlin, where she lost to eventual champion Amelie Mauresmo on Saturday, marked her first tournament with new coach Heinz Gunthardt, who used to work with Steffi Graf.
"I've just been looking to change things and kind of explore my options," Capriati said. "There are a lot of people that know a lot about tennis and have good things to say."
Capriati's father, Stefano, has overseen her game most of her career.
"It's hard to see things when you're close with your family, or to listen, because there's no separation," Capriati said.
"To me, it looks more like putting together a team. My parents will always be there -- they give me the support, the love that I need. It's just adding another dimension to the team."
She hopes to work with Gunthardt at least through Wimbledon.
May 11, 2004 SportsLine.com wire reports
ROME -- Serena Williams won her first match after a month off with a knee injury, beating Maria Sanchez Lorenzo 7-5, 6-3 Tuesday to reach the Italian Open's third round.
The American also lost the first two games of the second set before taking control for good.
"It was a struggle today. I hit a lot of fly balls," said Williams, the 2002 Italian Open champion. "But as long as I won, I'm really excited."
She hadn't played since pulling out of a tournament in Charleston, S.C., last month, when her left knee flared up. She had surgery on the knee in August and returned to action in March, winning her first tournament back.
May 11, 2004
ROME (AFP) - American top seed Serena Williams said the Rome Masters is much more than just a warm up for the French Open after her second round victory here over unseeded Spaniard Maria Sanchez-Lorenzo.
Asked if the clay court event at the Foro Italico was just a way of limbering up for Roland Garros, the six-time Grand Slam winner replied: "I wouldn't say it's a passing moment at all, it's a tournament I love to play in.
"And I love coming to Rome because I love the city and most of all the food - the pasta, the pizza.
"I couldn't wait to get off the plane. I was like 'Oh, I can't wait to get to Rome.
"I look forward to coming here every year. I want to come sometime when I am not playing so I can just hang out in Rome."
Williams is playing in only her fourth tournament since taking eight months off after knee surgery.
Swift Serena joins Capriati in Rome quarter-finals
May 13, 2004
ROME (AFP) - Top seed Serena Williams joined other American Jennifer Capriati in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters after strolling to a comfortable straight sets victory over Dally Randriantefy.
Randriantefy, from Madagascar and ranked 97th in the world, was no match for the pace and power of the six-time Grand Slam winner who wrapped up a 6-1, 6-3 win in 45 minutes at the Foro Italico.
Williams, a winner in Rome two years ago, will play Russian ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last eight.
Williams may have taken less than an hour to polish off Randriantefy, but she still found faults in her game.
"I dont think I played as well as I could have, so I'm not satisfied at all," said the 22-year-old American.
"I had opportunities to close the match out earlier and I think the scoreline could have been a little different."
American fifth seed Jennifer Capriati, winner of three Grand Slam titles, lost just four games in her straight sets demolition of Argentine Paola Suarez in her third round match.
A trouble-free 6-2, 6-2 victory set up a quarter-final clash against Israeli 16th seed Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi, who defeated Italian wildcard Flavia Pennetta.
Attack also proved to be the best form of defence for Capriati.
"I felt like I was playing really well, hitting my shots, serving well and even coming to the net a few times," said the 28-year-old American, who reached the semi-finals here two years ago.
"My mentality was to go out there and go forward. When I am moving well I can get to the ball that little bit quicker. And at the net you need that little bit extra to make the difference."
2004 TELECOM ITALIA MASTERS
May 13, 2004
S. WILLIAMS/D. Randriantefy
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena, please.
Q. What did you think about your performance tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think I played as well as I could have played today, so I'm not very satisfied right now at all.
Q. Any particular reason for that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm... No. I mean, I had opportunities to close out the match earlier and I think the score line could have been a little different.
Q. Does this mean something for tomorrow's match, or you will forget it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I've already moved on. Looking forward to my next match.
Q. I don't know if you heard that Martina Navratilova got a wildcard for Roland Garros. Would you like to be able to play her there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think that's great for her. She's 46, -7, and that's amazing. That's really amazing.
Q. Capriati said previously that she feels that the wildcard was taken away from a younger player. Do you feel the same or...?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I just said how I felt. I think it's great for her. If I could be even thinking about playing tennis at that age, it would just be unbelievable for me.
Q. You are said to be part of the concert which will take place in the future. Is it true? Do you know the other people who will take part in it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm good friends with Mr. Jones from just being around LA. It's for a great cause. It's for "We are the People." I'm excited to have the opportunity to be there.
Q. Do you like this type of tennis that you're playing now considering Roland Garros, how close it is?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm close. I could get better.
Q. Was there any level of improvement between Tuesday and today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, there was definitely a level of improvement. I think each round I'm getting better, so I'm looking forward to my next round.
By ANDREW DAMPF, Associated Press Writer
May 14, 2004
AP - May 14, 4:39 pm EDT
ROME (AP) -- Top-seeded Serena Williams and No. 5 Jennifer Capriati advanced to the semifinals of the Italian Open with straight-set wins on Friday.
Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo and No. 8 Vera Zvonareva, who both beat local favorites in the quarterfinals, were to meet in Saturday's other semifinal in the clay-court tuneup for the French Open.
Williams beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-0, her third straight win in her first tournament after missing a month with a knee injury.
``I hadn't played her before, but she's one of those young, blazing Russians, so I knew I had to be ready,'' Williams said of the ninth-seeded Kuznetsova.
Capriati, who beat Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi 6-3, 6-3, has lost fewer games than any of the other semifinalists. She also reached the semifinals at the German Open last week, losing to Mauresmo.
Her goal here is to get in top shape for the French Open, which starts May 24.
``I think I've been playing good lately, but I've still got a ways to go to reach that level,'' she said. ``Maybe I'm 80 percent now.''
City or Zip:
Mauresmo reached the semifinals for the fifth time in six years with a rain-delayed 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 win over Silvia Farina Elia.
Farina Elia served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but Mauresmo won four straight games to close it out.
``I managed to get through this,'' Mauresmo said. ``Hopefully it will help me on the weekend and maybe at the French Open.''
Zvonareva, who won her second career title in Memphis earlier this year, beat Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-3, winning on her fourth match point by breaking serve.
Schiavone and Farina Elia's losses extended a long streak of futility by local players at the Italian Open. They were trying to become the first female Italian semifinalists in Rome in the open era, which began in 1969.
The last Italian woman to win in Rome was Annelies Bossie in 1950. The last Italian man to win was Adriano Panatta in 1976, the year he also won the French Open.
Capriati had dropped eight straight matches against Williams.
"I've lost to her so many times in a row. It's a very personal victory for me," Capriati said.
The win also was evidence that Capriati's game is improving under new coach Heinz Gunthardt, who worked with Steffi Graf late in her career. Last week, at her first tournament with Gunthardt, Capriati reached the German Open semifinals, losing to eventual champion Mauresmo.
This week was the first time Capriati played in Rome without her father and coach Stefano Capriati. It's also the first time - in her 11th try - Capriati reached a final at the Foro Italico.
"Oh, let's not get on my dad. Come on, give him a break," Capriati said. "I was focusing on a few things the last few weeks, and it just came together."
She won the 2001 French Open; Williams won it the next year. Play starts at Roland Garros on May 24.
Williams is still trying to get everything sorted out with her left knee. The Italian Open was her first tournament back after nearly a month off with soreness in the knee; it was operated on in August, sidelining her until March.
"There are some things I want to work on going into the French," Williams said. "I'm definitely going to ameliorate them and become a real force, for sure, by French Open time.
"But I think I'm hitting a lot better, and I'm very satisfied with the way my game is going."
Capriati had trouble closing out her victory over Williams after taking a 5-1 lead in the second set.
On her first match point, at 5-2, Capriati double-faulted, then lost serve to make it 5-3. After Williams held to make it 5-4, Capriati nearly gave up her lead altogether when Williams had two break points to even the set at 5-5.
But three straight shots by Williams into the net set up Capriati's second match point, which ended when a Williams forehand struck the top of the net and landed on the wrong side.
"There are voices in my head that I'm trying to brush aside," Capriati said. "I knew I had another time to serve and that's what I felt: 'Just go for it. If it's not going to happen, it's not going to happen. I'm not going to let it go by giving it away.'
"I've let matches like this slip away. Today I just tried to keep concentrated to the end."
In the 2003 U.S. Open semifinals, Capriati was two points from victory 10 times against Justine Henin-Hardenne - and lost. Two years ago in the Italian Open semifinals, Capriati double-faulted to hand Williams a 6-5 lead in the third set, and Williams promptly put the match away.
"Good things happen to those who wait. You have to be patient," Capriati said, adding that Williams did not appear at the top of her game.
"She made too many mistakes and started to play well too late," Capriati said. "Her serve was a little bit different. Maybe because of her knee, she wasn't pushing off much."
Williams' only other loss this year came against Nadia Petrova at Amelia Island, Fla., in early April.
"I definitely didn't serve well enough," Williams said. "Overall I didn't play well enough. But for me, it's big step. I think theoretically I'm doing a lot better."
Mauresmo qualified for her fourth final in five years at the Italian Open. She lost the other three.
"Maybe the fourth time will be good for me," said Mauresmo, who won last week's German Open. "Anyway, it's going to be good preparation for the French Open."
Q. Serena, how do you sum up this match , your problems, her problems? What happened?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, I think I'm playing a lot better - I'm feeling the ball, and more consistent. So I don't know about her problems; I can only tell you about mine (smiling).
Q. More consistent, but not consistent enough, would you say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure.
Q. Did you serve well enough?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, definitely didn't serve well enough. Overall, I didn't play well enough. But for me it's a big step. I think theoretically I'm doing a lot better.
Q. Is it a big step because it's clay and that's physically so much more demanding?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's definitely physically more demanding. I wasn't tired at all. I think I'm just feeling more solid than I was in my first-round match, which is something I really wanted to be able to do by the end of the tournament, yeah.
Q. You had twice the ball to go 5-all in the second set. You thought you could turn around the match at that point, or you were not too confident or what?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think maybe it probably would have helped a little bit, but I don't know; she was playing pretty good today.
Q. Your history with her, winning eight straight matches, when you saw her double-fault on matchpoint, did you think, "Ah-hah, here I go"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That really didn't cross my mind. I just thought, "Keep fighting. Third set - maybe."
Q. Are you where you want to be now for your French Open preparation? What do you do now, during the remaining eight or nine days?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Almost - pretty much almost where I want to be. I would like to work on a few things. But, honestly, I think I'm hitting a lot better, and I'm very satisfied with the way my game is going. I can see it probably better than you guys can, but it's definitely going in the right direction.
Q. Even though the result is different, you're more satisfied where your game is now than how you felt at the end of Miami?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was serving better in Miami. I was a little shocked at how well I was serving, but I was serving definitely better, which is why there are some things I want to work on going in to the French. I'm definitely going to ameliorate them and just become a real force, for sure, by French Open time.
Q. We have the impression that you are still concerned with your knee, when you have to stop suddenly just before the net, or other situations when you don't charge with your foot when you serve. Is it on your mind, or no?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm... Maybe, maybe not (smiling).
Q. Will you stay in Europe and practice for the French?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm gonna enjoy my time in Europe, and maybe I'll go to the movies; I don't know.
Q. Anything in particular you want to see?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Something in Italian to improve my Italian.
Q. How is Venus right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's in great spirits. She's doing great. She's definitely going to be very, very difficult to beat at the French Open.
Q. Who is in better physical shape - you or your sister?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We both never get tired, we just keep running no matter what happens, so I don't know. She's really good at that, and I'm really good at that, too. But, you know, this week coming up, I'm really gonna get in even better shape - if that's possible - and eat even more pasta, pizza (laughter).
Q. The computer sometimes lies, Serena. You're not No. 1, but do you regard yourself as the No. 1 player in the world?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's kind of a weird situation, you know. People come up to me and they're saying, "Oh, hey, what's going on?" I'm like, "Oh, hey. How are you?" They say, "Yeah, so you're No. 1?" And I have no time to explain that I'm not, so I just say yes (laughter). It's a lot easier to say yes. A lot of people believe that I'm No. 1 anyway, so...
Q. Most do. Do you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure. I think that's important. Even five years ago when I wasn't No. 1, I believed that I was gonna get there and I believed that I was gonna be No. 1. And once you stop thinking like that, then it's probably time to move on to something different.
Q. What do you think the problem was today, was it your own errors, or was she dictating play completely?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think today it was a bit of both, for sure.
Q. Do you care which number you will be seeded at the French?
SERENA WILLIAMS: At the end of the day, I think that I'm going to have to play whoever. Whether I play in the first round, prefer -- Amelie or not, it doesn't matter. So I think eventually you have to play a person. Whether it's Venus or Justine or Kim, doesn't matter, you're going to have to play. So, I mean, I'll take it as it comes. It would be nice to have my special seeding, but I don't know with the Grand Slams. I don't know.
Since I have seen only a few pics of Coco and a short description that her game was powerful I'd love to know a bit more abut her and I hope some people who have watched her could give me a detailed report?
But I also want to use it as her cheering Thread as shes this week into the quarters of a...
Thought it would be a good time to start a thread for recent UVA grad Danielle Collins! She had a very successful college career at Virginia including 2 NCAA singles championships.
She's now trying the pro circuit and won the title this week at the 25k Stillwater :cheer:
It is time for a thread just for Madison. I love her enthusiasm and determination. She has improved greatly over the past year and I was really impressed with her at the US Open qualifiers.
Good luck at the US Open Juniors Madi!
Name: Cori "Coco" Gauff
Born: March 13, 2004
Residence: Delray Beach, Florida
Nationality: United States of America
Plays right-handed / double-handed backhand
Height: 5 ft. 9 in.
Coach: Corey Gauff / Gerard Loglo
Age started tennis: 7