- TENNIS - Capriati takes down Hingis in straight sets

French Open 2001

Thursday, June 7
Capriati takes down Hingis in straight sets

PARIS -- Jennifer Capriati defeated top-seeded Martina Hingis in the semifinals of the French Open on Thursday to move within reach of a second consecutive Grand Slam title.

Jennifer Capriati
Jennifer Capriati quick turned deficits into big advantages in the second set against Martina Hingis.

Capriati, seeded fourth, overwhelmed Hingis 6-4, 6-3 with her powerful groundstrokes. The match ended when Hingis sent her a forehand long.

Capriati plays Belgium's Kim Clijsters in the final Saturday.

"It's like I've been reincarnated," said Capriati, who last played in the semifinals at Roland Garros in 1990.

That year she became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist at 14, but she never got past the quarterfinals at the French Open in the next decade. Capriati, 25, won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.

Capriati raised her fist in a sign of victory after closing out the match on the windy and overcast center court.

"This match was difficult," Capriati said. "I knew she wanted to win her first Roland Garros, and I wanted to win mine, too."

Hingis, 20, has won every other Grand Slam title at least once, but she never has won the French Open, despite reaching the final twice.

"She just overwhelmed me," Hingis said. "She played too good. I had too many chances which I wasted."

The Swiss star, who was jeered and whistled at when she questioned calls, broke Capriati in the opening game but was broken back twice.

Leading 4-1, Capriati had a trainer massage her right knee during a changeover and briefly lost her edge. She later said she felt a twinge that probably was due to tendinitis.

Hingis tied it 4-4, then blew two break points in the following game as Capriati pounded forehand volleys down the line. She lost the first set on a long backhand.

In the final set, Capriati came back from 40-0 down to win the seventh and eighth games. She served out the match without letting Hingis score a point.

"Moments like today, they're what professional athletes live for," Capriati said.

She beat Hingis in straight sets in the final of the Australian Open. She has won three of their last eight matches.

"She is the hottest player on the tour," said Hingis, predicting that Capriati would be the favorite against Clijsters.

Clijsters, seeded 12th, became the first Belgian to reach the final of a Grand Slam by beating fellow Belgian Justine Henin 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Clijsters, who will celebrate her 18th birthday Friday, closed out her match with a forehand smash.

"I'm very happy," said Clijsters, who never before had gotten past the fourth round of a Grand Slam. "She played too good for me in the first set. I kept trying and focusing."

Henin began the match aggressively, taking the first set in 28 minutes as her opponent made a string of errors, repeatedly overhitting the ball and sending it long or wide.

She broke again early in the second set, but at 4-2 blew three break points. Clijsters held serve, recovered her confidence and leveled at one set all as boyfriend Lleyton Hewitt looked on from the stands.

In the final set, Clijsters made the decisive break when Henin, leading 40-0 in the sixth game, made five unforced errors to give her opponent a 4-2 advantage.

Henin, No. 14, was Clijsters' first seeded opponent of the tournament.

The victory was a repeat of their only previous meeting on the WTA Tour, a third-round match at Indian Wells last March during which Clijsters recovered from a one-set deficit to claim victory.

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