Originally created 02/16/99

Capriati loses as Graf steals show in Hanover



HANOVER, Germany -- Eighth-seeded Barbara Schett easily trounced Jennifer Capriati at the $500,000 Hanover WTA tournament Monday, where Steffi Graf stole the show.

Graf trained in front of 250 spectators, returning to a tournament where the former No. 1 made a comeback from a career-threatening knee injury last year.

Germany's most popular female sports star, Graf had been wildly cheered by 4,000 spectators last February after stepping on the court for the first time in nine months.

"What I most remember is the way I was greeted from people -- that left a stronger memory than the matches," said Graf, who has since fought her way back to a No. 7 ranking.

Schett had no trouble beating Capriati, the former Olympic champion who has fallen to 87th in the rankings, 6-4, 6-2.

Romania's Ruxandra Dragomir also advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against France's Sarah Pitkowski and France's Sandrine Testud slipped by qualifier Andrea Glass of Germany, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.

The top seeds like Graf, defending champion Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, Jana Novotna and Venus Williams begin play on Wednesday.

Graf, 29, has won three tournaments and beaten numerous top players during her comeback, but 1999 began with losses to world No. 1 Martina Hingis at the Australian Open and Tokyo.

While she insists she doesn't care about the top ranking anymore, Graf said she is still energized by the Grand Slams.

"Knowing the knee injury could end my career, I've gained some perspective. I don't see things as grimly as four or five years ago," Graf said. "The most important thing to me is I can play again -- with all the dedication that's necessary."