Capriati, Williams roll in Berlin


BERLIN, AP

Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams swept to victory in straight sets Thursday on a windy day to reach the quarterfinals of the German Open.

The top-seeded Capriati, who could claim the No. 1 ranking by winning the event, blew past Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan 6-2, 6-0 in just 43 minutes.

Williams struggled, but fought herself out of trouble with her serve in a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory against Bulgarian veteran Magdalena Maleeva, 7-6 (2) at the US$1.22 million event.

Williams ran her record to 16-2 this year, blasting a hard serve that the 26th-ranked Maleeva couldn’t handle to close out the match in 1 hour, 33 minutes.

“My serve wasn’t consistent, but when it went in, I think it saved me,” said Williams, seeded fourth.

Capriati simply overpowered the 14th-seeded Tulyaganova, who had taken her to three sets earlier this year at Miami.

Williams, playing just her second match on European clay, still wasn’t happy with her game as she alternated smashing winners and muffing easy shots.

“My mental is there, I’m just waiting for my game to get there,” said Williams, who has already captured two titles this year.

“But you guys don’t have to worry — I’ll win,” she added, laughing.

Williams dropped the first two games, then had to fight from behind the entire first set against Maleeva, who hasn’t lifted a set from in four tries.

But she boomed in her powerful serve whenever the match got tight to wear down the Bulgarian

Williams slammed two serves during the first set tiebreaker that couldn’t handle, giving her a 4-1 lead. She also warded off a break at 4-3 in the second set with an ace.

Williams, the younger of the two tennis-playing sisters, has never won a clay court title, but is enjoying a standout year. She lists herself as a strong favorite to win the French Open, which begins in two weeks.

“I definitely am — no doubt about it,” Williams said.

Slowed by a right ankle injury to start the year, which forced her to skip the Australian Open, Williams rebounded by winning at Scottsdale and Miami.

At Miami, she became the second player after Steffi Graf to defeat the top three in the world while winning the event, beating Capriati, older sister Venus and Martina Hingis.