No contest

Williams routs Capriati, faces Mauresmo next


Defending champion Serena Williams, left, makes it look easy against Jennifer Capriati in her 6-1, 6-1 win on Wednesday.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 12:33 a.m.

WIMBLEDON, England - Consider Serena Williams back, good as ever. Hey, she does.

Her body's pain-free, her mind's at ease, her strokes sting, her serves zing.

Finally facing what was billed as a true test, Williams downright dominated Jennifer Capriati 6-1, 6-1 Wednesday to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time since winning her second straight Wimbledon title last year.

''It's been a really hard 12 months for me,'' Williams said. ''I'm feeling really good for the first time since I've been back. And so that's what I'm most excited about.''

That's bad news for her next opponent, No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo, who reached her second Wimbledon semifinal by beating No. 9 Paola Suarez 6-0, 5-7, 6-1. Today's other semifinal is No. 5 Lindsay Davenport vs. No. 13 Maria Sharapova.

Davenport, the 1999 Wimbledon champion, and Williams are the only remaining players to have won a major title. Williams is bidding to become just the third woman in 35 years to claim three straight championships at the All England Club.

''It's been something on my mind since the beginning of the tournament,'' said Williams, who hasn't lost a set, dropping only 17 games through five matches.

Her first four matches came against unseeded players, and three-time Slam champion Capriati might as well have been.

''I don't think I really had much of a chance to get into the match and play. I was just feeling so much pressure from her coming off the baseline, the serve,'' No. 7 Capriati said. ''Her game plan was to tee off on everything, and she was on.''

It's been a while since Williams was at the top of her game; she slid from No. 1 to No. 10 in the rankings.

She had left knee surgery Aug. 1, less than a month after beating her sister Venus in the final at the All England Club. Then, in September, their half-sister Yetunde was shot to death. Some have wondered whether Serena should devote less time to her nascent acting career and fashion designing. And there are questions about how good she and Venus could be if they sought outside coaching, instead of relying on their parents.

All appears right in Serena's world these days, though.

Williams returned to the tour in March, winning her first tournament. But since then, she had gone 10-3, failing to reach a semifinal anywhere, until now. Two of those losses were to Capriati, including at the French Open.

Entering Wednesday, she held a 9-6 edge over Capriati, with 11 matches going three sets. All five at majors had gone the distance, but this time Williams needed just 45 minutes to put Capriati away.

And she took control early. At 1-1, Williams earned five break points, wearing Capriati down with brilliant returns until she double-faulted to cede the game.

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