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Capriati, Serena Win at French Open

May 29, 2002

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PARIS (AP) _ Defending champion and top-seeded Jennifer Capriati wrapped up a first-round victory Wednesday, beating fellow American Marissa Irvin 6-3, 6-4 as the sun finally appeared at the French Open.

Capriati had taken a 4-2 first-set lead when the match was halted Tuesday by rain and darkness.

Despite struggling with her serve, Capriati finished off Irvin, the No. 56-ranked player in just her second French Open.

Capriati committed three double faults in the fourth game of the second set to lose her serve. But in the 10th game when she served for the match, she came through with her only two aces of the day.

In another first-round match, third-seeded Serena Williams made quick work of Martina Sucha, rolling to a 6-3, 6-0 victory.

Dressed in a bright green tennis dress with soccer-style, ankle-high yellow socks, Williams overpowered Sucha with her serve and controlled the match with aggressive ground strokes and speed.

Williams, coming to Roland Garros after winning the Italian Open, needed just 61 minutes to subdue Sucha.

Anna Kournikova, meanwhile, made another first-round exit, losing to Christiana Wheeler of Australia, 6-4, 6-3. Kournikova took a tumble in the second set and cut the middle finger on her right hand, requiring a bandage from the trainer. She dropped that game and the final two to lose the match.

Three-time champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who was seeded 15th, also had a rough day. She was beaten 6-0, 6-1 by Marta Marrero while committing 35 unforced errors.

The 2000 champion, Mary Pierce, who skipped the tournament a year ago with back problems, advanced by beating Irina Selyutina 7-5, 7-5.

After her win, Williams said her approach to tennis changed last year when she became more serious.

``I take every match as a final of a Grand Slam,″ she said. ``No matter who you play, they want to beat you. Who wouldn’t want to beat a Williams?″ she said.

An ailing Justine Henin, seeded fifth, was ousted Tuesday, as was the No. 8-seeded Roger Federer.

``I’ve never experienced anything like it, raining consistently for 2 1/2 sets,″ Federer said after a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 first-round loss to Hicham Arazi. ``If it rains really, we can stop. But it was just raining enough where we could keep playing.″

Henin, a semifinalist at the French Open last year, was truly under the weather.

A sore throat, fever and congestion made for a miserable day and an early exit for one of the favorites coming into Roland Garros. She lost 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 to Hungarian qualifier Aniko Kapros.

``I just feel physically awful,″ said Henin, who admitted she probably should not have ventured out on a raw and cold day. ``I was not ready to play this match.″

Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick were hoping to play first-round matches Wednesday as the sun finally made an appearance and the weather cleared. Agassi was to play Eric Prodon and Roddick to face Wayne Arthurs.

On Tuesday, No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov finally finished off his match started a day earlier, beating qualifier Tomas Behrend 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-1.

For Kapros, making her French Open debut, things worked out, as well, against an ailing opponent.

``I played one of the best matches I ever played,″ she said, smiling ear to ear.

Kapros comes from a solid sports background and has traveled the world with her acrobat parents.

Her mother, Aniko Kery, was a member of Hungary’s bronze medal gymnastic team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Her father, Attila, is her coach. She learned tennis while living in the Bahamas, one of several locations where her parents performed.

Now the 18-year-old and 179th-ranked player has made the second round of a Grand Slam event.

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