Palo Alto (California): Despite not having won a tournament since last year’s Australian Open, world No. 7 Jennifer Capriati still believes she has the game to compete with the tour’s best.
“It’s not something I tend to dwell upon, because if I did, my confidence would drop and it would put more pressure on me,” said Capriati, who is seeded third at this week’s Bank of the West Classic. “People tend to view the fact that I haven’t won a title as a negative thing. But I’ve been close and it’s not that I’ve played so badly and can’t win matches,” she said.
“It’s not easy to win tournaments. Some people put a string together and are having a good time. For me it’s been a while, but I’ve still had good results.”
At Wimbledon, Capriati suffered her eighth straight loss to world No. 1 Serena Williams when she fell 6-2, 2-6, 3-6 in the quarter finals.
Seven of those losses have come in three-set matches, which is something that Capriati sees as a positive. “I was encouraged by it (the Wimbledon result). I had a chance to win. It was close and maybe that’s why I’m so eager to get back on court. Maybe I need just a little bit more of a push to get to the next step.”
Since winning her third Grand Slam title in Australia 18 months ago, Capriati has not only struggled against Serena, but has also lost to other elite players, including Belgium’s Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, compatriot Lindsay Davenport and France’s Amelie Mauresmo.
The aggressive baseliner said she’s attempting to add to her on-court repertoire, but still doesn’t own a big first serve, dependable second serve or competent volley.
“The improvements are really coming,” she said. “It’s just a matter of a few points here and there. I have the physical conditioning, but I need the matches and that winning mentality.
“When I get in those close matches I have to believe that I have got it all there. All it takes is just doing it.” The 26-year-old is now in her 13th year on tour.
While two of her peers, Monica Seles and Davenport, are struggling with foot injuries and have been talking about retirement, Capriati still sees a bright future for herself in the sport.
Both Davenport and Seles were scheduled to play in Palo Alto but have pulled out. “It’s unfortunate for them, but inevitable,” Capriati said.
“That’s why I try to care of myself as much as I can. I’ve been pretty fortunate to stay healthy, but I can feel the wear and tear of tour a little more now.
“I have to pick and choose how I train and how many tournaments to play, so I compete as long as I want to ... at least a couple more years.”
Last year during the summer hardcourt season, Capriati reached the quarter finals of events in San Diego and Los Angeles and the final of the Canadian Open, where she lost to Mauresmo.
At the US Open, she lost to the Frenchwoman again in the quarter finals, after she had served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.
A former world No. 1, Capriati said that while she was more concerned with playing well at the US, it would certainly help her confidence to notch a tournament win before she landed in New York.
“There’s nothing like actually seeing the results,” she said. “That’s the proof itself that you are playing well, that you are exactly where you want to be. Of course it would help.”