Though delayed, Capriati departs

Wimbledon's third seed sent packing in quarters by Mauresmo 6-3,6-2


July 04, 2002|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England - Wet weather and a hot player drove Jennifer Capriati right out of Wimbledon yesterday.

The No. 3 seed looked as if she wanted to be anywhere but where she was, on Centre Court, in the women's quarterfinals against No. 9 Amelie Mauresmo of France.

Capriati glumly stared at a mass of clouds bearing down on Centre Court. She briskly marched on and off the court during repeated bouts of sprinkling rain. She feuded a little with the chair umpire over service calls. She mouthed a curse. She had a stiff neck.

And she lost meekly to Mauresmo, 6-3, 6-2.

So much for Capriati being the one player who could stand between Venus and Serena Williams and the all-Williams final.

No. 2 Serena Williams did her part in getting to the semifinals, outlasting No. 11 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in a fitful match, 6-3, 6-2. Through all the rain, Williams kept her calm, and her rhinestone-topped tiara firmly in place.

"Nothing bothers me really anymore," she said. "I've become jaded."

Instead of facing Capriati in today's semifinals, Williams will face Mauresmo.

"She's playing well," Williams said of Mauresmo. "She has a really nice slice. I'm just going to go out and just be focused this time. It's time to get serious and buckle down."

The other semifinal is a rematch of last year's final between No. 1 Venus Williams, the two-time reigning champion, and No. 6 Justine Henin of Belgium.

On a dreary day of rain and cold that typified what the English insist on calling summer, Wimbledon's schedule began to back up.

No. 4 Tim Henman of Britain began his quarterfinal match against Brazil's Andre Sa, winning the opening set 6-3 before play was halted by rain and darkness.

The scheduled quarterfinal between No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt and Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands was pushed back until today. Argenina's David Nalbandian and Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti are also due to play today.

Belgium's Xavier Malisse will face Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands after Krajicek outlasted Mark Philippoussis of Australia in a two-day round-of-16 epic. The match, knotted at two sets apiece as darkness fell Tuesday, finally finished last night.

Krajicek gained a service break to open the fifth set and won, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

While Maursemo's magnificent performance was one of the big surprises of the tournament, so was Capriati's lethargic play.

Capriati has run through a lot of makeovers during her Wimbledon career, from sparkling teen to veteran on a comeback for the ages.

But she may be entering the toughest phase of all, having to cope with tough defeats on the world stage.

Capriati had won her past three encounters with Mauresmo, including two-set routs at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open.

But she didn't even get into yesterday's match, and Mauresmo had a lot do with that state of affairs.

"She has never been consistent as she was today," Capriati said of Mauresmo. "Usually if you can just stay in there with her, she can make a few unforced errors and kind of give you the opportunity."

But there was none of that in this match.

"I think she did everything great," Capriati said. "The most important thing she did was serve unbelievable."

"She did everything well," Capriati added. "My passing shots, she volleyed so well. On a couple of passing shots I hit to the fence because I was trying too hard because she was just playing so well."

Meanwhile, Capriati really was playing badly. Facing a break point in the sixth game of the opening set, she looked to the sky, saw the rain and hesitated for a moment. She served one fault, looked to the umpire to stop play because of the rain, but then carried on.

And smacked a double fault.

In the second set, Capriati got a little snarly with the umpire Andreas Egli of Switzerland, after he overruled a service call and awarded an ace to Mauresmo. When there was another overrule and another ace, all Capriati could do was smile.

It turned out she had a pain in the neck and her left shoulder, receiving on-court treatment after falling behind 4-1 in the last set. Capriati said the nagging pain felt like a strain from the neck, but she didn't think "it had anything to do with my loss."

"I mean, my neck was a little bit stiff waking up this morning," she said.

She never got warmed up and never had a chance to stay in Wimbledon.

So it's up to the likes of Henin and Mauresmo to stop the apparently inevitable - an all-Williams women's final.

With a new more positive outlook and a strong game built around a ferocious backhand, Mauresmo could do some damage in the semifinals.

Can she win?

"I just have to take it as it comes," she said. "I know I have my chances, and that's the most important [thing]."

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