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Still don't believe? Look at the signs

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By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 4, 2001


WIMBLEDON, England -- If you haven't done so already, you can start to lean back and let yourself go. You can rid your mind of the cynicism and doubt, and begin to seriously consider the possibility.

Maybe, just maybe, Jenny might pull this thing off.

I know, I know. She's still a long way off. She's into the Wimbledon semifinals, but that's a big jump from holding the winner's trophy. Then, of course, there's the matter of the U.S. Open.

But if you were waiting for a reason to latch on to the possibility, to close your eyes and reach for it with both hands, you have it now. It came Tuesday with Jenny's 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Serena Williams.

The win means Jenny moves into the semifinals, but it represents so much more, namely that anything is possible.

Think about it. If Jenny were to lose a Grand Slam tournament, it likely would be on her least-favorite surface. And if she's going to lose here, you have to figure it's going to be to a big name with a big serve and a Grand Slam title to her credit.

She probably would get caught on a day she's not at her best or when she's slightly injured and unable to play her game. And if she truly has a shot at winning the Grand Slam, she'll survive that kind of match. Well, guess what? She's still alive.

And here's something else. Wimbledon is starting to unfold just like Jenny's past Grand Slam wins. She taunted fate, teetered nervously on the edge of elimination, but somehow kept her balance.

She trailed 5-7, 2-4 to Monica Seles in the Australian Open quarterfinals but rallied. She was down a set to Kim Clijsters in the French Open finalbut tied the match and won 12-10 in an epic third set.

Tuesday she was behind a set and down 3-5 at love-30 to Serena. Two points and her Grand Slam would have been history. John McEnroe, calling the match on British television, said Jenny was toast at that point.

"I really didn't want it to be over, so I was giving it everything I got," said Capriati, who played with a strained buttocks muscle. "I thought about the French final there, that I was two points from defeat also. I thought, "Well, if I can do it there, I can do it now.' "

Clearly, destiny is smiling on her these days, if it hasn't fully embraced her. Who knows what she did to get it, but at this point it really doesn't matter.

What matters is, she has something extrinsic on her side, something that seemingly won't let her lose no matter how close she brings herself to it. You can tell because things seem to be falling her way. And that's exactly what you need to pull off something as tricky as winning four straight majors.

Just ask Tiger Woods.

Remember the third set when Jenny stopped in the middle of a point to dispute a line call, leaving Serena with a sitter near the net that she unexplainably flubbed long? I mean, Serena couldn't miss that shot again if she tried. But she did against Jenny.

Granted, you can't win the Grand Slam on luck and good fortune. You've got to have the game.

But you have to have some karma, too. You have to have whatever it was inside Jenny on Tuesday and made her rise from her deathbed against a player who is skilled at beating the life out of the enemy.

Now are you starting to believe?

Think about this, too. Jenny's next opponent is a 19-year-old playing her second Wimbledon and who hadn't won a Wimbledon match until this year. No, Justine Henin is no pushover, but as Grand Slam semifinalists go, Jenny could have done a lot worse.

Henin is exactly the type of player Jenny likes, a baseliner who would rather play on any surface but grass. Her style should allow Jenny to get into a groundstrokes groove.

"It'll be a different match (than with Serena). There's going to be more rallies, for sure," Jenny said. "Hopefully I'll be serving well. I'll really just try to attack her game.

"She's got good hands. I mean, she's a very talented player, so I've got to be ready for anything."

So have we. Ready to ride confidently along with Jenny wherever this zany adventure of hers takes us. Even if it's all the way to Flushing Meadows.

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