Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Sister act get closed down early in Paris

FRENCH OPEN Serena Williams was joined on the sideline 28 minutes after her 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 loss to Jennifer Capriati by older sister Venus, who lost to Anastasia Myskina 6-3, 6-4

AP , PARIS

Jennifer Capriati wins her quarterfinal match against Serena Williams at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

By beating Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati also conquered a few demons.

Capriati closed out a big match for a change Tuesday, advancing to the semifinals of the French Open and ousting longtime nemesis Williams 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

As often happens in Grand Slam events, Capriati won the first set and went ahead in the third. This time she hung onto the lead.

"I tried not to listen to those voices, you know, that sometimes come in my head -- you know, the negative ones," she said.

Williams was joined on the sideline 28 minutes later by older sister Venus, who lost to Anastasia Myskina 6-3, 6-4. It was the first time the sisters lost in the same round of a tournament.

Capriati has three Grand Slam titles, including the 2001 French Open, but knows all about coming up short. Six times in the past two years, she has been eliminated from a major event in three sets, often after leading.

Last year, for example, she was two points from victory 10 times in the US Open semifinals before losing to eventual champion Justine Henin-Hardenne.

And Capriati had lost seven consecutive times when Williams pushed her to three sets.

"I have to give myself credit for not, you know, just giving up," Capriati said. "You have to take it like a fighter. You're going to get punched, and you've got to take the blows and just keep coming back. And that's why it just feels like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders."

With the Williams sisters eliminated, the seventh-seeded Capriati becomes the favorite in an upset-filled event. The highest-seeded woman remaining is No. 6 Myskina, who advanced with steady play that lured Venus Williams into 43 unforced errors.

Serena Williams had 45 errors against Capriati.

"We're going to pack our bags and leave," Venus said. "There's nothing left for us here anymore."

The back-to-back defeats for the first family of women's tennis reinforced the notion that the sisters' best results might be in the past. Venus and Serena combined to win eight of 11 Grand Slam titles through the Australian Open in 2003, but other players -- including the champion to be crowned Saturday -- will have won four of the past five major events.

"Now, of course, everybody believes at least that they can fight with them," Myskina said. But she cautioned that the sisters will be back.

"I mean, they were the best," she said. "They can be the best again. It's going to be little bit harder for them, because I think right now more players believe."

The lineup for Thursday is a mite hard to believe: Capriati vs. Myskina, and ninth-seeded Elena Dementieva against No. 14 Paola Suarez. It's the first time since the 1978 Australian Open that none of the five top-seeded women made the semifinals.

Myskina and Dementieva give Russia two women among the final four of a Grand Slam event for the first time since the Open era began in 1968.

Capriati said the Williams sisters were rusty following injury-related layoffs, which helped explain their absence from the semifinals.

"It's not really shocking," she said. "There are a lot of girls that have been playing a lot more tennis than they have. And if anyone's going to really have a chance to beat them, it would be on clay, which is a little slower surface."

The sisters weren't the only upset victims in the quarterfinals. Dementieva disappointed a partisan crowd by beating third-seeded Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 6-3.

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