WITH the MTV Music Awards warming up across town, Jennifer Capriati put on a show-stopping New York performance of her own at the US Open on Thursday night.
Whether she had an early night in mind or perhaps an invitation to P.Diddy's post-awards party tucked away in her racquet bag is anyone’s guess. Either way, the sixth seed did not hang around.
The floodlights barely had time to reach full power before she was off court, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Slovak Martina Sucha.
“I miss being on the top...playing good tennis,” the American told reporters, leaving no doubt as to her goals this fortnight.
The one-sided manner of Capriati’s win suggests she could well be back on top come finals day.
Next in her sights is Emilie Loit after the Frenchwoman ended the dreams of Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4.
After a slowish start, Andre Agassi shook his showbiz stuff on centre stage, following Capriati onto court and dazzling the late-night crowd and Swedish opponent Andreas Vinciguerra.
The men’s top seed and world number one, dressed in a menacing black outfit, cracked winners all over the court to beat Vinciguerra 7-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Next he will face former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, who ousted Dane Kenneth Carlsen 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
“We go back a long time, have had a lot of battles,” Agassi smiled.
“The Y-Man is a talented player. His career speaks for itself and he knows how to win, so I will have to be up from the start.”
Capriati and Agassi’s irresistible performances put Lleyton Hewitt and Mary Pierce’s struggles in context, the two former Grand Slam winners drawing on all their experience to advance.
Sixth seed Hewitt, who has battled indifferent form since his shock first-round loss at Wimbledon, recovered from a sluggish start as he grunted and growled his way past South Korea’s Lee Hyung-taik 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
“For me the first few rounds are toughest,” said Australian Hewitt, the 2001 US Open champion.
“But I know what you have to do to win Slams. I’m through to the third round, I can’t complain.
Fighting back to fitness following two injury-plagued seasons, a beefy Pierce showed glimpses of the power game that helped her win Grand Slam titles at the Australian and French Opens.
The unseeded Frenchwoman clawed out a 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 win over 22nd seed Jelena Dokic in a draining two-hour performance on a sun-baked centre court.
“I just felt like I was starting to scratch the surface of coming into myself and my potential and being the best that I can be,” said Pierce, who next meets Japan’s Shinobu Asagoe.
“Since then I’ve had some injuries and I’ve been out for a while. I just want to be the best I can be and maximise my potential...whatever that is.”
Men’s 11th seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand had a much easier passage, brushing past Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, while 33rd seed Juan Ignacio Chela tamed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Argentine Chela will next face claycourt king Juan Carlos Ferrero. The third-seeded Spaniard suffered a brief hardcourt hiccup before recovering his composure to move into the third round with a 1-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Juergen Melzer of Austria. – Reuters
Paradorn Srichaphan (Tha) bt Dominik Hrbaty (Svk) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3; Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg) bt Tomas Berdych (Cze) 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3; Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt Lee Hyung-taik (Kor) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4; Fernando Verdasco (Spa) bt Davide Sanguinetti (Ita) 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3; Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spa) bt Jurgen Melzer (Aut) 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-4; Jonas Bjorkman (Swe) bt Ramon Delgado (Par) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3;
Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus) bt Kenneth Carlsen (Den) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3; Todd Martin (US) bt Martin Verkerk (Ned) 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (11-9); Radek Stepanek (Cze) bt Fabrice Santoro (Fra) 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3; Guillermo Coria (Arg) bt Bohdan Ulihrach (Cze) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4; Gregory Carraz (Fra) bt Arnaud Clement (Fra) 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1; Karol Kucera (Svk) bt Mardy Fish (US) 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4; Taylor Dent (US) bt Nikolay Davydenko (Rus) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7); Fernando Gonzalez (Chi) bt Stefan Koubek (Aut) 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, 6-2; Robby Ginepri (US) bt Wayne Ferreira (Rsa) 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (0-7), 6-2; Andre Agassi (US) bt Andreas Vinciguerra (Swe) 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, 6-4.
Dinara Safina (Rus) bt Ludmila Ceranova (Svk) 6-4, 6-1; Saori Obata (Jpn) bt Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian (Swi) 7-5, 6-4; Ai Sugiyama (Jpn) bt Virginie Razzano (Fra) 1-6, 6-3, 6-3; Claudine Schaul (Lux) bt Samantha Reeves (US) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3; Mary Pierce (Fra) bt Jelena Dokic (Sem) 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5); Amy Frazier (US) bt Nathalie Dechy (Fra) w.o; Shinobu Asagoe (Jpn) bt Tathiana Garbin (Ita) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2; Maria Sanchez Lorenzo (Spa) bt Magui Serna (Spa) 7-5, 6-1; Nicole Pratt (Aus) bt Silvia Farina Elia (Ita) 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-1; Elena Dementieva (Rus) bt Tatiana Perebiynis (Ukr) 5-7, 6-4, 6-0; Tina Pisnik (Slo) bt Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) 7-5, 6-0; Justine Henin-Hardenne (Bel) bt Silvija Talaja (Cro) 6-1, 6-2; Anastasia Myskina (Rus) bt Antonella Serra Zanetti (Ita) 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3); Francesca Schiavone (Ita) bt Arantxa Parra (Spa) 6-4, 6-3; Jennifer Capriati (US) bt Martina Sucha (Svk) 6-1, 6-1; Emilie Loit (Fra) bt Maria Sharapova (Rus) 6-3, 6-4.