She beats Davenport in straight sets, will play Hingis for Australian Open title.
Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Jennifer Capriati advanced to a Grand Slam final for the first time in her tumultuous career, upsetting defending champion Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 6-4 today in the Australian Open.
Capriati lost four previous semifinals in major tournaments, three in 1990-91, when she was a teen prodigy. That was before her hiatus from tennis in the mid 1990s because of drug and personal problems.
In Saturday's final, Capriati, seeded 12th, plays top-seeded Martina Hingis, who played almost flawlessly to beat No. 3 Venus Williams 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes. The most lopsided loss of Williams' career ended her bid for a third consecutive Grand Slam title.
"It's taken me a long time to get to the final of a Grand Slam," said Capriati, 24. "It's something I really wanted."
Capriati avenged her loss to Davenport in last year's semifinals, and she did it by hitting boldly from the baseline. Her blistering returns put Davenport, seeded second, on the defensive, and Davenport quickly began to look discouraged, hanging her head and swatting at the court with her racket between points.
"Maybe Lindsay underestimated me in the beginning," Capriati said. "I've played a lot of good matches but maybe not this good against a top player. I was real proud of myself for not letting the moment get to me and being able to focus and concentrate and play my game."
When Davenport dumped a forehand into the net on the second match point, Capriati waved a fist, grinned broadly and clenched her cap as though in disbelief. Davenport hugged her at the net.
"She played great," Davenport said. "She was really fired up. I thought I was not playing all that well. Combine the two, and it wasn't all that close."
Capriati had lost her past five matches against Davenport dating to 1997, including three in Grand Slam tournaments.
On a sunny, hot and humid afternoon, Capriati took a 3-0 lead, then held serve the rest of the way to take the first set. Davenport was unable to convert any of her six break-point chances in the set, and on four of the points she failed to get her return into play.
"I knew breaking her serve was the key," Capriati said. "I got an early break; maybe she didn't expect it."
A bizarre point gave Capriati a service break and a 3-2 lead in the second set. Davenport hit a forehand off the net post, and when the ball deflected high in the air to Capriati's side, she stepped forward and slammed a winner.
Capriati closed out the next game with back-to-back aces, and Davenport's play became even sloppier down the stretch.
Davenport made unforced errors on 43 of the 78 points Capriati won.
Hingis committed eight unforced errors to 38 for Williams.
"She was hitting a little bit wild today, that's for sure," Hingis said.
Williams, who had won 19 consecutive Grand Slam matches, shrugged off the defeat smiling.
"I just had an off-day, and she played her normal game, which is to be a great counterpuncher," Williams said. "I didn't seem to do the right things."
ALMOST AS GOOD AS BASTILLE DAY: Once Yevgeny Kafelnikov's overhead smash bounded cruelly off the top of the net and plopped next to a ball boy, Arnaud Clement decided to bathe in the moment of his unlikely match point.
Clement joyfully tossed his bandana into one section of the frenzied crowd and zinged his shirt into another. Hearing the noise crescendo, he threw his shoes and socks as well.
Standing in only his white shorts, Clement, seeded No. 15, absorbed his quarterfinal victory Wednesday through every pore of his skin. All the while, Sebastien Grosjean clapped for his friend's 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3) upset of No. 5 Kafelnikov from the players' box. A few hours before, Grosjean, seeded No. 16, advanced to the semifinals, too, with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win against former world No. 1 Carlos Moya.
Now, the two hitting partners meet in a match that will underscore a French renaissance. For the first time since 1983, there is an all-French semifinal at a major. Whether the winner is Grosjean or Clement, a Frenchman will be in the final of the Australian Open for the first time since 1928, when one of The Three Musketeers, Jean Borotra, won the title.
The winning Frenchman faces the winner of the semifinal between Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter played early today.
"We grew up together in tennis," Clement said of Grosjean. "He's one of my best friends on the tour. One of us will play a final here. Unbelievable."
Clement picked out his spots beautifully. After splitting the first two sets with the hard-serving Kafelnikov, who piled up 23 aces, Clement continued to reveal his survival skills. He came back from 3-1 down in the third set, saved a set point and undermined Kafelnikov's chance to seize control.
"All day long, I had no rhythm at all," Kafelnikov said.