Jennifer Capriati

By Bruce Schoenfeld, Tennis Magazine (November/December 2004)

At 28, Jennifer Capriati knows her days are numbered. Following a dramatic but disappointing run to the US Open semifinals, her hopes of another major victory now rest on the 2005 Australian Open.

Jennifer Capriati had been crying. Her red-rimmed eyes gave her away as she stepped into the interview room in Arthur Ashe stadium after her semifinal loss to Elena Dementieva at the US Open. Usually so calm, so cautious, so media-trained, she couldn’t help but offer a glimpse into her soul.

Who could blame her? It was all so unfair. She’d fought so hard against Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, doing what she had to do to win, only to have it undermined by that silly controversy about the umpire’s overrule. For two days, it was all she saw on television, the ball landing near the line and Serena striding toward the chair. Didn’t they have anything else to talk about? Lying in bed at night, she replayed the point over and over, like a bad song she couldn’t get out of her head. Then, against Dementieva, she had found herself a game away from finally reaching a US Open final after all these years. And wouldn’t you know it? The wind was swirling, the sun was in her eyes, and suddenly she was out of the Open again, facing a press conference like so many others.

She’d squandered her fist opportunity, in 1991, as a 15-year-old, losing a memorable semifinal match to Monica Seles in a third-set tiebreaker that would haunt Capriati for years. A decade later, in 2001, she reached another semifinal, this time losing to Venus Williams in straight sets. And then last year she’d served for the match in the semis against Justine Henin-Hardenne but couldn’t close it out. This year’s semifinal against Dementieva, who was floating seves of 60 mph and slower across the net, presented her best chance, and possibly her last.

“I was just thinking, Play the wind the best you can,” she murmured. “I guess I waited for her maybe to make a few more errors. I mean, I can’t really…” She trailed off. “I don’t know.”

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Finally some live tennis! My first live tournament of the year!

My first memories of Roland Garros are from the early 80’s, watching Lendl, Wilander, Navratilova, and Evert battle on one of the 3 French TV channels. And of course like every French people, I remember Noah’s historic win over Wilander in 1983, his overwhelming joy and his run to embrace his father.
Leconte booed during the trophy presentation in 1988, Edberg heartbreaking defeat against Chang in 1989, Agassi flashy outfits, Graf-Seles breathtaking final in 1992, Guga samba tennis in 1997… Time flies.

May 2004: my first trip to Roland Garros. Agassi, Safin, Ferrero, the Williams sisters, I finally got to see some of the best tennis players I had watched for years on TV.

Marat Safin, 2004:

Marat Safin, Peter Lundgren

Marat Safin

Fabrice Santoro and Peter Lundgren, 2004:

Peter Lundgren, Fabrice Santoro

Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2004:

Juan Carlos Ferrero

From then I was hooked, and Roland Garros 2004 was the first of many tournaments I’ve attended over the years: the US Open, the Queen’s, Bercy, the Lagardère Trophy, the Optima Open, the Open GDF Suez and of course Roland Garros (in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Roger Federer, 2006:

Roger Federer

Ilie Nastase, 2007:

Ilie Nastase

Novak Djokovic, 2008:

Novak Djokovic

Court Philippe Chatrier, 2010:

Court Philippe Chatrier

Rafael Nadal, 2011:

Rafael Nadal

Maria Sharapova, 2012:

Maria Sharapova

The excitement of the first tournaments slowly let place to a kind of “been there, done that” feeling, but there’s
nothing like watching a sporting event courtside. Not only can you see and hear everything as it happens, but you also really feel part of the event. Of course, you don’t get the benefit of all those fancy TV replays and close-ups but you avoid annoying commentary.
One of the best thing is court-hopping. Wandering around the grounds with a simple 24€ pass, you get to see as much or as little of the event as you want: watch Sharapova practicing on court 12, Hewitt playing on court 7 or a Goerges-Stosur doubles match on court 16.

I’ll be onsite the first week, covering the tournament for Tennis Buzz but also guest posting for Grand Slam Gal.

Thanks to Jean-Matt, webmaster of toutsuragassi.com for his 2004 US Open story.
You want to share one of your stories? Please contact us.

It was back in 2004, I decided it was high time to go to the US Open and see Andre play “at home”. I asked other French fans if they were interested in coming with me. And there we went. A couple of days before the tournament we were eight people flying over the Atlantic ocean.

New York is a strange city. After a long drive from JFK (but it was in a limo, so that was not too long though ;-), we arrived in Manhattan. And even if it was our first time in NYC, there was something familiar about this place. We happened to see this city in movies, in series, and there are so many famous monuments there.

Times Square

Chrysler Builiding

Brooklyn Bridge

Anyway, we soon had to get prepared for our first day at Flushing Meadows : the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. I was surprised to see Andre so relaxed before the tournament. He really seemed to enjoy being there. He hit a few balls with Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish

In the “real” tournament, Andre’s first round was scheduled on the huge Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first night session. And it was against another American player : Robby Ginepri. The stadium was packed and there was a real friendly atmosphere in the stands. Any tennis fan should definitely go to the US Open.
2004 US Open: Ginepri - Agassi

2004 US Open: Ginepri - Agassi

2004 US Open: Ginepri - Agassi

The first set was tough, but Andre eventually won 7-6 6-4 6-2. He seemed to be in pretty good shape. And by the time we flew back to France, we didn’t know that he was going to make it to the quarterfinals and an incredible match against number one Roger Federer.

Marat Safin

Read Best of Marat Safin – part 1

Part 2:
7 – Toronto 2004: Marat the hippo
6 – Hopman Cup 2009: Marat kisses the net cord lady
5 – Australian Open 2002: Marat and the Safinettes
4 – Davis Cup 2002: Davis Cup hero
3 – French Open 2004: the pants
2 – Australian Open 2005: the relief
1 – US Open 2000: the future of tennis?
Note: it’s not a ranking of Marat’s achievements, these are just 15 moments of Marat’s career which reflect “Marat being Marat”.
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Probably the match which really launched Nadal‘s pro career.

Playing his first full season on the ATP Tour, Nadal won his first title in Sopot, Poland and was one of only four players to beat Roger Federer.
He made his Davis Cup debut in the first round of Davis Cup 2004 against Czech Republic, losing the first match against Jiri Novak but winning the decisive fifth rubber against Radek Stepanek and qualifying Spain for the quarterfinals.
Nadal was decisive once against in semi vs France: he beat the pair Clement/Llodra partnering Tommy Robredo, and he replaced Moya for the reverse singles and beat Arnaud Clement to clinch Spain’s victory.

Spain (Ferrero, Moya, Nadal and Robredo) faced the USA (Roddick, Fish, Bryans) in final on the red clay of Seville.
98 Roland Garros champion Carlos Moya defeated Mardy Fish in straight sets in the opening rubber.

The lowest ranked Spaniard (n°51), Nadal had only been expected to play the doubles alongside Tommy Robredo but he was named to replace Ferrero in singles.
2004 was a nightmare season for 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero: despite making the Oz Open semies, his ranking dropped from third to 31st. He didn’t win any title that year and finally, he was overlooked in favour of the 18-year-old Mallorcan.

Arrese’s decision proved to be the right one as Nadal beat world number two Andy Roddick 6-7(6) 6-2 7-6(6) 6-2. It was the second meeting between those two as Roddick won easily 3 months earlier in the second round of the US Open.

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