Originally created 05/15/04

Williams-Capriati semifinal in Italian Open



ROME -- Top-seeded Serena Williams and No. 5 Jennifer Capriati advanced to the semifinals of the Italian Open with straight-set wins on Friday.

Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo and No. 8 Vera Zvonareva, who both beat local favorites in the quarterfinals, were to meet in Saturday's other semifinal in the clay-court tuneup for the French Open.

Williams beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-0, her third straight win in her first tournament after missing a month with a knee injury.

"I hadn't played her before, but she's one of those young, blazing Russians, so I knew I had to be ready," Williams said of the ninth-seeded Kuznetsova.

Capriati, who beat Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi 6-3, 6-3, has lost fewer games than any of the other semifinalists. She also reached the semifinals at the German Open last week, losing to Mauresmo.

Her goal here is to get in top shape for the French Open, which starts May 24.

"I think I've been playing good lately, but I've still got a ways to go to reach that level," she said. "Maybe I'm 80 percent now."

Mauresmo reached the semifinals for the fifth time in six years with a rain-delayed 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 win over Silvia Farina Elia.

Farina Elia served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but Mauresmo won four straight games to close it out.

"I managed to get through this," Mauresmo said. "Hopefully it will help me on the weekend and maybe at the French Open."

Zvonareva, who won her second career title in Memphis earlier this year, beat Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-3, winning on her fourth match point by breaking serve.

Schiavone and Farina Elia's losses extended a long streak of futility by local players at the Italian Open. They were trying to become the first female Italian semifinalists in Rome in the open era, which began in 1969.

The last Italian woman to win in Rome was Annelies Bossie in 1950. The last Italian man to win was Adriano Panatta in 1976, the year he also won the French Open.