Peaking at just the right time, Monica Seles bore down, blew the cover off the ball and sent Jennifer Capriati reeling out of the US Open with a 6-4, 6-3 fourth-round victory on Monday and moved into the quarterfinals..
Two hours after the match, Capriati left the interview room in tears. After reading a deeply reflective prepared statement in which she attempted to sort out her controversial past , Capriati asked the media never to ask her about her past again. However, after being asked a series of questions relating to why she felt the need to write the statement, Capriati broke down.
Unlike in ’91 when she and Capriati were giggling girls engaged in classic three set barnburner in the semis, Seles said that now the two of them are mature women who have been through the ringer.
“After we played that great match,, if someone would have come up to me and said [we would play again here], I’d have said, ‘Oh yeah, right,’ Seles said. “If some one would have said that in April [of ’93] that I’m going to be stabbed at a tournament, not to have a chance to win a lot of Grand Slams, I would have said, ‘No way.’ That’s what happened. Jennifer had a layoff for different reasons. Things happen in your life….we’re here trying to change the future.”
In playing her best match of the event, Seles outgunned Capriati from both wings, planting herself well inside the baseline, anticipating most of her opponent’s baseline blasts and creaming every short ball.
“I came out a little slow, ” Capriati said. “I was really ready and eager to come out on court but I couldn’t get my rhythm. I felt behind the whole match. But it was still a good match and I was in there with her. I’ll go for it the next time.”
Seles added, “I played well in key points. Obviously I let Jennifer back in a little bit in both sets. Thank goodness I woke up in time and started playing better tennis.”
The 25-year-old Seles was particularly lethal from her forehand side, ripping 11 winners and taking over numerous crosscourt rallies. Capriati did dig herself into the contest, competing ferociously and laying waste to the Yugoslav-American’s second serve. But as she has numerous times throughout her storied career, Seles bit her lip, turned on the volume on her grunt-o-meter, and punched thorough Capriati at key moments.
“I was pretty frustrated because I had my chances and didn’t do anything with them” Capriati said. “I kept letting her back in top.”
Seles, who hasn’t win a Slam title since she grabbed the ’96 Australian Open, isn’t sure whether her slightly out-of-shape frame can take her to the singles crown — an achievement that has eluded her the past seven years.
“It’s hard. I mean, I believe that [I can win the title],” said Seles, who won U.S. Open titles in 1991 and ’92. “I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t. It’s hard because physically you have to come back for three very difficult matches…I really feel game-wise I’m there.”