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Capriati moves to quarterfinals

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Defending champion Jennifer Capriati fought her way into the Australian Open quarterfinals Monday, beating determined Rita Grande 6-3, 7-6 (9).

The match ended with a double fault, the 10th point against service in the final 11 in the tiebreaker. At 9-9, the players were so caught up with the match that they forgot to change ends.

''It was a tough way to end the match, and I was sorry for her. But thanks for that,'' Capriati said of the final double fault.

Capriati will face seventh-seeded Amelie Mauresmo in the quarterfinals. Mauresmo struggled to beat Marlene Weingartner 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.

Sixth-seeded Justine Henin, the Wimbledon runner-up, advanced to a possible quarterfinal meeting with Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters, the French Open runner-up and No. 4 seed. Henin beat No. 12 Elena Dementieva 6-0, 6-3.

Henin's and Mauresmo's matches were delayed by rain in the second sets before the roofs on the two main stadiums were closed.

In men's matches, 1998 runner-up Marcelo Rios beat 23rd-seeded Nicolas Lapentti 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.

Capriati squandered her first match point with three errors while serving at 5-4 in the second set.

Grande, ranked No. 29, then missed a good chance to take the set when she netted an overhead smash at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. She lost another chance at 8-7 when Capriati hit a winning backhand serve return.

Capriati laughed off a netted backhand volley on her second match point, at 7-6, and missed another chance with a lob too long at 9-8. She gained her final match point when Grande hit a forehand wide.

''She played really well, and especially toward the end she really picked up her game and wasn't missing at all,'' Capriati said.

Off Grande's slow balls, ''I couldn't use her pace. It was a real test of my patience. I even got into some slicing battles with her, playing her game a bit,'' Capriati added. ''It was a matter of who fought the hardest and got the last point.''

When it was time for the change of sides at 9-9, ''I didn't even know the score,'' Capriati said. ''I was just trying to suck wind and get some air in.''

Grande said she missed the crucial overhead ''because I was tired after a big rally.''

''I was scared on match point when she would do it again,'' Grande said. ''She's No. 1 and she'll take a risk. You make a mistake and that's it.''

The 19-year-old Henin whipped backhands that kept Dementieva on the run, and set up frequent chances to put away shots from the net. Dementieva, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2000, was forced into frequent errors.

''I'm happy,'' Henin said. ''I was a little bit afraid of this match. She's a young and tough player. ... I went to the net. I was really aggressive. I'm in good form for sure.''

Henin will face the winner of a match between Clijsters and unseeded Janette Husarova.

Mauresmo, the 1999 runner-up, won her first set in 19 minutes but then had to recover from a spate of wildness.

She helped Weingartner with 19 unforced errors in the second set and lost the first two games in the final set before recovering to take a 3-2 lead. Mauresmo broke serve in the last game on misses by the German.

''I had a very good start and then maybe I wanted to do too much. I started to make a few mistakes and then she came into the match,'' Mauresmo said.

Henin's quick victory followed more rapid wins Sunday by Venus Williams and Martina Hingis.

Williams, trying to win her third straight Grand Slam event and fifth overall, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over 13th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva. Williams will face four-time Australian Open champion Monica Seles.

She looked sluggish in Melbourne last year en route to the semifinals, where she won just two games against Hingis -- looming as possible semifinal opponent this year.

Hingis beat No. 15 Amanda Coetzer 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes Sunday to set up a match with unseeded Adriana Serra Zanetti.

The eighth-seeded Seles advanced when Anabel Medina Garrigues wrenched her knee trying to reach a wide shot.

On the men's side, where the top five seeded players were gone before the third round, Jonas Bjorkman knocked out No. 6 Tim Henman 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-4 Sunday.

Among the top 22, only five were left: No. 7 Tommy Haas, No. 8 Pete Sampras, No. 9 Marat Safin, No. 11 Roger Federer and No. 16 Thomas Johansson. Sampras and Safin are the only men left in the field who have won a major title.

Sampras meets Safin, while Haas plays Federer in the fourth round Monday.



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