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Henin is the outsider

By DARRELL FRY, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 5, 2001

WIMBLEDON, England -- Only an upset by a Belgian teenager in today's women's semifinals can prevent the title from staying in the United States for the third year in a row.

Justine Henin is clearly the outsider of the final four. Henin, 19, reached the French Open semifinals a month ago and eliminated 1994 Wimbledon titlist Conchita Martinez in the quarterfinals.

She faces Jennifer Capriati, the winner of 19 Grand Slam matches in a row this year and who is going for her third straight Grand Slam title. Capriati won her only meeting with Henin when Henin retired with an injury.

In the other semifinal, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport meet in a rematch of last year's championship match. Williams beat Davenport in straight sets last year and has not dropped a set in this championship.

"I think (Davenport) hasn't been playing her best game," Williams said. "We're pretty much using the same weapons that we used last year. She's played a few tough players like Jelena Dokic, and I think I have a shot against anyone."

Davenport also has gone through this Wimbledon without dropping a set.

Davenport has beaten Williams in 10 of their 16 meetings.

Capriati and Henin go first on Centre Court.

AGASSI-RAFTER III: Here we go again with Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter.

Both won quarterfinal matches to set up their third straight Wimbledon semifinal meeting. Agassi won in 1999 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. Rafter took last year's rematch 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

"I guess it's starting to become a little bit of a tradition here at Wimbledon," Rafter said. "I know the English love their tradition. You know, there's nothing more exciting than playing a guy like Andre at Wimbledon. Actually, it would be better if it was the finals."

THE SHIRT OFF HIS BACK: After Goran Ivanisevic dispatched fourth seed Marat Safin in the quarterfinals Wednesday, Ivanisevic stripped off his shirt and flung it into the Centre Court crowd, a celebratory gesture he had curtailed in recent matches.

Ivanisevic said he stopped throwing shirts because the manufacturer, Tacchini, sent him only three. But because of his success, he said, the company shipped him more, so he thought he could afford to toss one.

"Maybe I should make a tattoo 'Tacchini' if they pay me enough," Ivanisevic quipped. "I didn't know what to do at first (after the match). I didn't know where to go. I couldn't throw the racket because I still have three rackets. I have to keep that."

DID YOU KNOW?: Rafter has not lost a Grand Slam quarterfinal match in his career, including two previous ones at Wimbledon.

* * *

TODAY'S WOMEN'S SEMIFINALS: Justine Henin (8) vs. Jennifer Capriati (4).

Lindsay Davenport (3) vs. Venus Williams (2).

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