Wimbledon: Capriati wary of Williams backlash

Revenge will be in the Centre Court air today, as Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams clash for a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Revenge will be in the Centre Court air today, as Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams clash for a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Last month the pair fought out a similar last eight battle at Roland Garros, which Capriati won in three sets on her way to the French Open title.

And Capriati, who breezed past Sandrine Testud yesterday in just 10 minutes more than the 48 it took Williams to dispose of Magdalena Maleeva, acknowledges she faces her biggest battle yet to keep her Grand Slam dream alive.

‘‘It is going to be extremely tough,’’ said Capriati, who also beat Williams in this season’s Ericsson Open.

‘‘I haven’t watched Serena play at all in this tournament but I assume she’s playing really well because of all her scores.

‘‘And I think she is going to be pretty eager, especially against me because I’ve beaten her twice. She probably wants to get revenge.

‘‘I’m not going to think about those wins too much because it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before. The grass makes it different, so it’s just that I know how to play her and I know how to beat her.’’

The younger Williams has lost only 11 games on her way to the last eight, but it was a similar story last year, when she dropped the same number of games but ran into big sister Venus in the semis and was comprehensively outplayed.

Serena is confident she has learned from that experience and also that French Open defeat against Capriati, insisting she can use those memories to her advantage.

‘‘I’ve been more determined after that (Capriati) match,’’ Williams said. ‘‘It’s something I don’t want to put behind me because I want to remember all the bad things I did in that match so I can improve next time.

‘‘My dad and I discussed how in the Slams, especially in the early rounds, I tend to fly through matches.

‘‘So we’re working on some things in practice so that when I do play a harder player like I did against Venus or maybe Capriati now, then I’ll be ready.’’

Defending champion Venus has been in similarly dominant form in this tournament, as she proved in yesterday’s 6-2 6-0 win over Nadejda Petrova, which sets her up for a last eight meeting with French veteran Nathalie Tauziat on Court One today.

Venus insists she would like nothing better than a Wimbledon final against her sister.

‘‘I’m going to be hoping she goes all the way. In the previous matches she’s played against Jennifer they’ve been very close,’’ said Venus.

‘‘But I don’t think Serena has performed nearly as well as she can do. She has a choice to compete well or compete badly. She has to make that choice.’’

Tauziat, the 1998 losing finalist, is set to retire from the main tour at the end of the season but after her comprehensive win over Tamarine Tanasugarn - itself revenge for last week’s defeat at Eastbourne - she insisted the end of her era would not be playing on her mind.

‘‘It’s on my mind that it’s the last one but I don’t care that it’s the last one,’’ said the 33-year-old.

‘‘I want to go further and I think I have a chance to go further. I’m going to take my chance.’’

Lindsay Davenport is equally confident that she can reach her third consecutive final and go one better than last year’s defeat to Venus.

The Californian overcame potentially the most tricky obstacle on her route towards the title when she dealt with the considerable threat of Jelena Dokic 7-5 6-4.

Davenport, 24, now faces another teenager in the Belgian Kim Clijsters, one of a group whom the former Wimbledon champion believes are the next generation of female tennis stars.

‘‘The new group - Clijsters, Henin, Dokic - are a very good group of players. It’s fun to play the young ones,’’ said Davenport.

‘‘I said a few days ago that I’d be surprised if the winner was someone other than the Williamses, Capriati or myself. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

‘‘I think there’s really strong contenders and I think the other players that are left like Clijsters and Henin are waiting to break through.’’

Belgian Clijsters, last month’s French Open finalist, beat Meghann Shaughnessy in two tie-break sets to secure her place in the quarter-finals for the first time.

And her compatriot Justine Henin is also through after doing it the hard way again, coming from a set down to defeat Germany’s Anke Huber.

In her last eight clash on Court One today, Henin meets 1994 champion Conchita Martinez of Spain.

Martinez, who ended the run of teenage Russian beauty Lina Krasnoroutskaya

6-3 6-4, said: ‘‘I’m playing with a lot of confidence and I’m feeling great on grass.’’

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