| Jennifer Capriati celebrates after winning her quarter final against Magdalena Maleeva in Los Angeles Saturday. Capriati won 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. (AP/PTI)
Los Angeles: Jennifer Capriati laboured to defeat unseeded Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 Saturday to reach the semi-finals of the $3 million WTA Championship.
The third-seeded American now faces Serena Williams. The other semi-final is between world number two Venus Williams and fifth seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium.
Without a title since Australian Open crown in January, Capriati had won just one match in three events before arriving in Los Angeles. “I’d be thrilled to win here,” said Capriati. “It would be like winning the first one and the last one...who cares about what happens in-between.
“I’m motivated to be here. I’ve got nothing to lose, I feel fresh because I didn’t play that well in Europe or have that many long, tough matches. I’m definitely not going to pack it in. If I really was that tired I wouldn’t be here,” said Capriati.
Although she was erratic and far from impressive, it was still enough to defeat Maleeva.
Both women struggled with their serve in a contest that featured 14 breaks, nine going against Maleeva, a player once ranked in the top five. After battling to take the second set, Maleeva’s serve completely deserted her in the third as she failed to hold even once.
“My shoulder was really tired...I don’t have any speed in my arm. I just couldn’t get pumped up. I just started terrible in the third set and she’s too solid,” said an exhausted Maleeva.
Meanwhile, world number one Serena Williams pounded a weary Jelena Dokic 7-6, 6-0 Saturday to move into the semi-finals and towards a possible season-ending showdown with her sister Venus. She is looking to cap a memorable year by adding a second WTA title to three Grand Slam wins.
Playing her first tournament since lifting her season-leading eighth title six weeks ago in Leipzig, Serena took exactly one hour to defeat Dokic.
“I feel great,” said Serena, who can become the first woman to win $4 million in a single season with a successful defence of her crown. “I’m not tired, I’m just getting started. I was tired after Germany, I was really fatigued and had to take a break.
“Sometimes I think the tournament schedule is too hectic, one after another and then at the end you have this big tournament you want to do well in. If you don’t have the energy, it’s hard. I had to take a break.”
Serena made a shaky start as Dokic registered the early break and took a 3-0 lead. Serena broke back but continued to struggle, until the tie-break which she swept 7-1, Dokic double-faulting on the first set point.
“In the tie-breaks it’s always my goal to get out to a quick start, that way I can dictate play with my big serve,” she said.
The effort appeared to deflate Dokic, the eighth-seed offering only token resistance the rest of the way as Serena raced through the second set in just 20 minutes. It was her third win in as many meetings with Dokic, who has yet to take a set from the 21-year-old American.
Dokic attributed her second-set collapse to a sprained right ankle she said she injured during her first practice after arriving in LA. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to play,” said Dokic. “I was hurting a little bit more in the second set.