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Capriati suffers agonizing heartbreak loss

Jennifer Capriati choked away a dream chance to reach her first US Open final, squandering opportunity after opportunity before finally losing to a cramping Justine Henin-Hardenne 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4).

india Updated: Sep 06, 2003 13:05 IST

Jennifer Capriati choked away a dream chance to reach her first US Open final, squandering opportunity after opportunity before finally losing to a cramping Justine Henin-Hardenne 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4).

US sixth seed Capriati served for the match in the second and third sets here Friday and was two points from victory on Henin-Hardenne's serve in both sets. But Capriati sprayed errant shots time after time to rescue her rival.

"When I came off the court I felt like the whole world was coming down on me, like my heart was being ripped out," Capriati said. "It's pretty hard to put into words after that kind of defeat."

The 27-year-old American was unable to put away pivotal points when it mattered most, blowing a 5-2 lead in the third set and a 5-3 in the second after rallying from a 4-1 deficit to capture the first set.

"I definitely had the match in my hands," Capriati said. "It was my match to win. I guess I beat myself."

Six-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams and her powerful sister Venus had met in six of the prior eight Slam finals but were absent here with injuries, giving Capriati a golden opportunity that she squandered.

"It hurts. It's very disappointing. But what can I do. That's just the way it went," Capriati said. "I didn't let up too many times. I lost momentum only a couple times when I was in position to win, at the finish line there."

Capriati confessed it could be the sort of defeat that lingers a lifetime.

"Some losses could stay with you forever," she said. "You want to keep these things in your memory, to learn for next time.

"The next few days, it's going to be hard to look at it as just a match. Down the road, how I feel about it, yeah, it's just a match.

"Worse things can happen. Before I might have been more devastated. Instead of looking at myself as a failure for not winning, I look at it as giving all I had, showing a lot of heart. I am only human."

Second seed Henin-Hardenne advanced to an all-Belgian final Saturday against top-ranked Kim Clijsters, who eliminated US third seed Lindsay Davenport 6-2, 6-3 in the other semi-final.

Henin-Hardenne need intravenous fluids afterward to treat cramping in her left leg.

"You have to give her credit the way she stayed in there," Capriati said. "I gave it all I had and she did too and for whatever reasons I didn't win. I still think it's a positive thing for me and for the future."

Seeing her rival cramp raised the tension for Capriati.

First Published: Sep 06, 2003 13:05 IST