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Archive for Monday, May 27, 2002

Capriati leads limited field entering French Open

May 27, 2002

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— Jennifer Capriati hasn't gotten around to watching a tape of one of the most thrilling French Open finals in history.

She was there, of course, for the live version one she hopes to recreate in two weeks by retaining her title at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

Picking up where she left off in Paris, the top-seeded Capriati practiced Sunday morning with Kim Clijsters, the Belgian who lost that 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 marathon for the 2001 championship. The 22 games were the most in a third set of a French Open women's final, and the most in a third set of a major women's final since the 1948 U.S. Open.

"I really haven't seen it again. I only remember playing it," Capriati said. "I'm sure maybe they'll show it a couple of times on TV or something, some highlights. But I think I have a few things to look at to get me inspired to play some good tennis."

The French Open gets under way today on center court with No. 2-seeded Venus Williams playing Bianka Lamade of Germany, followed by three-time men's champion Gustavo Kuerten against Ivo Heuberger of Switzerland.

No. 4 Clijsters and No. 6 Monica Seles also play first-round matches today, as does the top-seeded man, U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt, along with Pete Sampras, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Australian Open winner Thomas Johansson.

Intermittent rain disrupted play in Sunday's charity event and today's forecast calls for more showers.

Martina Hingis had ankle surgery this month, forcing her out of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since she turned pro in 1994. Former No. 1 Lindsay Davenport has been sidelined since November with a knee injury, while men missing from the French Open include Goran Ivanisevic (shoulder), Marcelo Rios (knee), and Greg Rusedski (neck).

And several top players who are here have been ailing, including Kuerten (hip), No. 2 Marat Safin (back), Venus Williams (wrist), and Serena Williams (leg).

"It just seems like a lot of players are injured," Capriati noted. "So you get used to them not all being there."

After hip surgery 212 months ago, Kuerten didn't think he would be here.

On Sunday, he discounted his chances of winning a third straight French Open, something accomplished only by Bjorn Borg.

Kuerten has played just 11 matches this year not nearly enough preparation, he said, for the beating a body takes during best-of-five-set matches over two weeks.

"I cannot say I don't see any chance, but it seems like many guys are playing better than me. I don't know how my body's going to respond," the Brazilian said, adding he probably will skip Wimbledon (he did last year, too) to rehab his hip.

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