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Tennis briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2001

Game but lame, Serena tumbles

KEY BISCAYNE -- A limping Serena Williams often found herself out of position and forced to hit awkward shots. Between points, she grimaced, hopped or bent over in pain. She iced her left thigh during changeovers and twice received treatment from a trainer.

But Williams kept playing because she knew she had no choice. Quitting her quarterfinal match Wednesday against Jennifer Capriati at the Ericsson Open was not an option.

Her thigh and some stinging forehands from Capriati spoiled a potential final Saturday between the Williams sisters. No. 4 seed Capriati won 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) and advanced to today's semifinals.

The Williams siblings were supposed to play in the Indian Wells semifinal March 15, but Venus pulled out with knee tendinitis, prompting speculation she ducked the match. The crowd booed the family, and father Richard alleged the jeers were racially motivated.

"We got some bad press for that," Serena Williams said, "so I decided to go all out."

No. 2 seed Lindsay Davenport retired with a bone bruise in her right knee hours later while trailing No. 7 Elena Dementieva 6-3, 1-0. Davenport suffered the injury earlier in the tournament.

"It was really hurting a lot," she said. "You can't win at this level when you're not 100 percent."

Dementieva plays Capriati today, and No. 3 Venus Williams meets No. 1 Martina Hingis.

Injury also played a role in the elimination of Andy Roddick, whose breakthrough run at Key Biscayne ended with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to No. 7 Lleyton Hewitt.

Roddick, 18, played with a sore hand caused by fatigue from playing so much tennis recently.

"It's been a great week," he said.

Hewitt's opponent in the semifinals Friday will be Jan-Michael Gambill, who survived a match point in the second set to beat Gaston Gaudio 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Gambill has overcome five match points in the tournament.

Serena Williams' gimpy but gallant performance Wednesday left little room for debate about the legitimacy of her injury, even though it wasn't disclosed previously. The WTA Tour confirmed she has been receiving daily treatment since straining her thigh en route to the Indian Wells title.

"I have just been going on like a soldier," said Williams, who expects to be fine in a few days.

Williams started poorly, but her injury didn't become evident until the opening game of the second set, when she pulled up limping.

"She still came out playing some great points," Capriati said.

There were no jeers, but the crowd was firmly behind Capriati, a native Floridian and the reigning Australian Open champion.

HINGIS STALKER TRIAL: The Williams sisters and Davenport might be called to testify next week at the Miami trial of a man charged with stalking Hingis. The lawyer for Dubravko Rajcevic said he wants the players to support his contention that Hingis is not emotionally distressed, as the prosecution claims, by his client's professed love for the 20-year-old.

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