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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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MELBOURNE (Reuters): Jennifer Capriati said yesterday she was not fully fit as she begins the defence of her Australian Open tennis crown.

The 25-year-old suffered a hip injury in last week's Sydney International and was thankful her defence did not begin until Tuesday.

She plays Croatian Silvija Talaja on day two.

"I've been getting lots of treatment and trying to recover it," Capriati said yesterday.

"I feel 90 percent, I think it's okay... but the extra day will help a lot."

Capriati said returning to the Open to defend her title, it feels like she has never been away.

"I will always love this place forever. For my whole life this will always be the place where it all started.

"And it started such a year...I never knew there were so many awards."

Capriati went on to win the French Open after making her grand slam breakthrough in Melbourne and was ranked number one in the world.

Her return down under has brought back a good feeling.

"It feels like I never left, the year was so great for me and that's why it has gone so fast," she said. "Time flies when you are having fun.

"When I arrived here at the airport all the feelings just came back...I can't wait to get back to action.

"This year my mom (Denise) is with me. She doesn't get mentioned much but she is very important to me. I want to enjoy this with her this year."

Capriati has avoided Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Martina Hingis in her half of the draw but warns against complacency.

"There are a lot of tough competitors in my side...maybe people think it will be an easy ride but it is never easy," she said.

"There is Clijsters, Henin, those Belgian girls. It is not going to be easy at all."

Whatever Capriati achieves over the next fortnight, she is guaranteed the number one ranking when the new rankings are released on Monday.

It means more to her than she ever imagined it would.

"Being number one...I have said before maybe it is not a big deal, but now that I am, I kind of like it," she smiled.

"But with winning tournaments and winning majors is how you get to be number one. That is what it is about."
 
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