SPORTS

Daniilidou scores new win over Capriati

Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou, currently ranked 35th in the world, ousted third seed Jennifer Capriati from Florida’s WTA and ATP Masters Series event on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory in a third-round match of the 6.5-million-dollar event. It was the second victory of the year for Daniilidou over Capriati, who also lost to her a second-round match last month at Dubai. Capriati, 27, who has been struggling to return to full form from injury, had won three of four prior matches against the 21-year-old Daniilidou, who won the title at the Auckland Open earlier this year. «She didn’t play her best tennis,» Daniilidou said. «Everyone knows it’s tough to come back after a big injury. I know it was not her best performance.» The three-time Grand Slam champion finds herself hampered after three months off with a back injury and unable to play her best. «I’m just disappointed with the way I played. I really felt like I was playing well coming into the tournament,» Capriati said Sunday. «Without playing, you lose that aggressiveness. I was just not really stepping in and attacking her balls when I should have. I just really didn’t play my game at all.» Capriati sat out before returning last month at Dubai with a loss to Daniilidou. She has yet to regain the form which brought her the 2001 and 2002 Australian Open and 2001 French Open crowns. Capriati ran to the French Open semifinals in 1990 at age 14 in her Grand Slam debut, spent four years as a prodigy and five more barely playing the game before deciding upon a comeback that brought the Grand Slam success she craved. Daniilidou’s victory over Capriati removed the last remaining top-10 foe from top seed Serena Williams’s half of the draw, smoothing her path into the final of her first event after an eight-month left knee injury layoff since winning Wimbledon last July. From Florida, Serena Williams expressed concern over security at the Athens Olympics, while Daniilidou also admitted feeling scared about what could happen next August when the Games return to their birthplace. Williams and her sister Venus plan to defend the Olympic doubles gold they won in 2000 at Sydney, where Venus Williams also captured the singles title. «We’re really excited,» Serena said. «We’ve been working on our doubles game.» But in the wake of March 11 terrorist bombings in Madrid, Serena was adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the first Summer Olympics since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. «It’s definitely a concern of mine,» Williams said.«I would be kind of naive to say it isn’t. You have got to be really careful in the world these days. There is so much going on. I think my security and my safety and my life is a little bit more important than tennis, and so if it became a real concern to where I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable, then I wouldn’t go to Athens. Because I like my life. I like to live, like waking up in the morning.» Danillidou, Greece’s top hope for an Olympic tennis medal, said she felt wary of travel given the current tensions in the world. «It’s for sure now everywhere is dangerous,» she said. «I’m starting to be scared a little bit to travel with all this that’s happening.» Yet the Greek standout, now into the round of 16 in Florida, is confident her homeland will produce a safe and special Olympics. «It’s a little dangerous situation because it’s a big event and everyone from all around the world is going to be there,» Daniilidou said. «But I heard they are spending three times more money than Sydney for the security part. I think everything will be done to really enjoy the time and make things quiet there. I hope, and really I’m positive, that at the last minute it’s going to be a good Olympic Games.» Serena Williams understands those who defiantly refuse to alter their lives because of terrorist acts. But the 22-year-old actress-model and six-time Grand Slam champion is wary of taking foolhardy chances as well. «I agree you can’t stop living your life because you are scared something is going to happen,» she said. «I’ve got to be able to keep moving. I’m that kind of person. But at the same time, I’m very aware of things that are going on in the world. I read a lot so I’m very aware of a lot of stuff. It’s very unfortunate but it’s just either you go or you don’t go and hopefully I will go.» For Daniilidou, these Olympics will be the thrill of a lifetime. «I’m really looking forward to playing because it’s something special for all of us, the Greek team and Greek athletes,» she said. «I’m very focused for the Olympics. I hope to be there without injuries, to feel good and give everything. The most important thing is to enjoy the time. It’s special with the history and all the people that are going to be around.» (AFP)