CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Jennifer Capriati cried foul after losing 6-3, 6-3 to Monica Seles in the Acura Classic quarterfinals Friday, claiming Seles’ famous grunting on each shot “is like interference.”
No. 2 seed Venus Williams beat sixth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-2, 6-2, while No. 4 Lindsay Davenport struggled to a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (5) victory over 12th-seeded Sandrine Testud of France.
They will meet in Saturday’s semifinals, while Seles faces either No. 1 Martina Hingis or Ai Sugiyama of Japan, who played a night match.
Capriati committed 24 unforced errors in the 52-minute loss to her former doubles partner, who has won three of their last five meetings and leads the rivalry 9-4.
I never really got in a groove. From the first point she was really aggressive and she was screaming at the top of her lungs,'' said Capriati, a career-high No. 2 in the world this week.This is the loudest she’s ever been. It was extremely hard to concentrate.”
Capriati complained about Seles’ vocalizing to chair umpire Denis Overberg after she trailed 2-1 in the second set. WTA Tour supervisor Clare Wood appeared on court after Capriati trailed 3-2.
Wood monitored Seles, but did not tell her to pipe down.
I didn't feel it was a deliberate hinderance,'' Wood said.In my opinion, the grunting was at a level that was acceptable.”
However, Wood said she would mention Capriati’s complaint to Seles and also sit courtside for Seles’ semifinal Saturday. But Wood said an official warning to Seles would depend on the reaction of her next opponent.
Monica is known for her grunting and a few years back she had a lot of complaints,'' Wood said.This is the first incident in years.”
Seles emits a distinct sound when she hits each shot, but she expressed surprise when informed of Capriati’s complaints by a WTA Tour official.
I did nothing differently during this match, changed nothing, so I feel I have nothing to defend,'' Seles said in a statement.I respect Jennifer as a friend and a player and I’m sorry she thought I did anything on purpose or if anything in my game upset hers.”
Seles, seeded seventh, is playing just her fifth tournament since February. She has missed much of the year because of a stress fracture in her right foot that still prevents her from running as part of her workout routine.
“Just that I’m playing again is a lot of fun. I’m not going to measure my happiness with a win or loss,” said Seles, who withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon with the injury.
“I was really surprised by the way I played and that I kept the same intensity throughout the match,” she said.
Capriati said Seles’ grunts carried over to when she was hitting a shot.
Sometimes it's like interference,'' she said.I don’t know if it’s something I should take straight to her. Even my mother said to me that’s what I should’ve done.”
While Seles focused on pounding her groundstrokes deep, Capriati was also annoyed by ringing cell phones in the stands at the La Costa Resort.
“Answer it!” she yelled at a spectator when she held a break point in the second set. Seles sent a backhand wide to give Capriati her only break of the second set at 3-3. Seles broke Capriati’s serve three times in the second set and hit a forehand winner to close out the match.
Everyone grunts, I grunt, but I don't absolutely scream when I hit the ball,'' Capriati said.It’s tough for me to concentrate with other distractions, like people in the crowd and cell phones. I have to try to tune that out.”
Asked if she would add ear plugs to her equipment bag, Capriati just smiled.
Capriati didn’t garner any support from Williams and Davenport, who are ranked third and fourth in the world.
Davenport defeated Seles in last week’s Bank of the West semifinals at Stanford and said she wasn’t bothered by the grunting.
Sometimes with Monica, the closer it gets the louder she gets,'' Davenport said.Certain players grunt very loud, like Serena Williams and Monica, but I never thought I lost the match because of someone else’s volume.”
Williams said she tunes out her opponent and focuses on the ball.
Whatever they do on their side I can't control unless they're cheating and that hasn't happened since juniors,'' she said.I guess Serena can get loud at times. It’s not illegal. Everyone is free to breathe as they see fit.”
Davenport and Testud slugged through a two-hour, 18-minute battle marred by a combined 75 unforced errors. Davenport trailed 4-1 in the third-set tiebreaker before rallying.
Hopefully winning matches and getting to the semifinals gives you confidence,'' Davenport said.I know I have it in me. I just have to keep it more consistent.”