NEW YORK (AP) — They began under leaden afternoon skies that twice sent them into long rain delays, and they played through the punishing humidity of a late-summer night.
Earlier in the evening, Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati faced off in a resumption of what many thought might have been one of the great rivalries in women’s tennis if off-court problems had not interrupted their careers.
So much has happened to them since their magical semifinal at the Open in 1991. But for one night, at least, Seles took Capriati back in time, defeating her 6-3, 6-4.
Nine years ago, they were kids, Capriati 15 and Seles 17, slamming huge shots at each other, viewed as the future of American women’s tennis. Seles captured a third-set tiebreaker that day and went on to win the championship, beating Martina Navratilova.
I really don't think about that much anymore,'' Capriati said.I think it’s kind of annoying a little bit, to tell you the truth.”
Seles recalls it more warmly.
I think it's the first time in women's tennis you had such hard hitters,'' she said.It changed the face of women’s tennis.”
On an unpleasant night that left them both drenched, there were few reminders of the tennis they once played at center court.
She came out really strong,'' Capriati said,just from the first ball. She was just hitting them full speed. She served really well. It was tough for me to break every time. That put a little more pressure on my serve.
“I think it was pretty close. We had a lot of close games there. It could have gone either way.”
A year ago, they played in the round of 16 and after Capriati lost, she finished the day in tears, trying to bury her troubled past.
I think she's found some peace,'' Seles said.I think she’s changed a lot in a year. It’s great to see that. I’m probably the same. I’m pretty even through the hard times and through the good times.”