Capriati joins Serena in Berlin quarters
German Open: BERLIN: US fourth seed Serena Williams had to scrap before reaching the quarter-finals of the $1.244-million German Open on Thursday with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 win over Bulgaria’s Magdalena Maleeva.
In contrast, top seed Jennifer Capriati, who said Wednesday she is unlikely to return to the US Fed Cup fold following a row with skipper Billie Jean King, tore past Uzbekistan’s Iroda Tulyaganova 6-2, 6-0 in just 40min.
Capriati needed three sets to get past Tulyaganova at Miami but this time showed no mercy. Her opponent didn’t show herself any either as she double-faulted to gift Capriati the win on her third match point.
Williams, whose world number one sister Venus is sitting out the event, came here warning her rivals that she was after top spot and that nothing - not even sisterly love - would get in the way of that goal, which she hopes will also take in a “dream” success at the French Open.
“I love Roland Garros - I love the city. Obviously, to win the French Open championship would be a dream come true,” said the 20-year-old American.
Williams had beaten Maleeva in all three of their previous meetings - though this was the first time on clay, a surface on which Serena has yet to lift silverware.This week she is chasing her 14th career title on only her second visit to the Rot Weiss Club.
She could meet defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France in the last eight - and that thought is spurring her on.
“I think tomorrow will be the day I play well. I’m not very happy with the way I played today - my serve wasn’t very consistent,” admitted Williams, who fought back from 1-3 in the opening set against Maleeva to romp through the tiebreak before finally triumphing in 1hr 33min.
Before she can face Williams, Mauresmo, conqueror of Capriati in last year’s final here, first has to get past Italy’s Silvia Farina Elia.
Belgian fifth seed Justine Henin, who needed three sets to oust German wildcard Martina Muller in round two, again came back from the brink as she edged Russia’s Elena Likhovtseva 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, coming back from 1-4 down in the third set. Israeli Anna Smashnova, having dumped out Belgian second seed Kim Clijsters on Wednesday, enjoyed a far brisker passage into the last eight, the 25-year-old beating Spain’s Cristina Torrens-Valero 7-6 (7/0), 6-0 to gain revenge for a loss at her rival’s hands last year at Wimbledon. In other third-round matchups, Yugoslav sixth seed Jelena Dokic was taking on Slovak teen Daniela Hantuchova, seeded 11 and a shock winner in Indian Wells in March, while 1995 Berlin champion and triple French Open queen Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain was facing Nathalie Dechy of France. —AFP