Originally created 05/24/04

Coria rested and ready to bid for first Grand Slam title



PARIS -- Guillermo Coria is ready to start a new winning streak at the French Open.

The Argentine took a well-deserved break last week after he lost for the first time in 32 clay-court matches to Roger Federer in the Hamburg final.

"I'm full of energy, full of confidence," Coria said Sunday. "I'm more confident than ever, and I hope I'll be able to fulfill the dream of winning this tournament."

Coria, a French Open junior champion in 1999, is seeded third and seeking his first Grand Slam title. Clay is his favorite surface, but he considers himself only one of many contenders - among them the top-seeded Federer and former champions Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Andre Agassi and Gustavo Kuerten.

"This tournament is a wide-open tournament," said Coria, a 2003 semifinalist. "There are so many possibilities."

Coria, seeded third, plays Nikolay Davydenko on Monday.

Federer, scheduled to open his title bid Tuesday against Kristof Vliegen, has been eliminated in the first round each of the past two years.

"I don't consider myself as the favorite at all," he said. "There are too many other guys who have played much better at the French Open. It's time for me to show I can also play well."

NEW COACH: Jennifer Capriati has enjoyed a resurgence since hiring coach Heinz Gunthardt, who once coached Steffi Graf.

Capriati said the partnership is clicking even though she and Graf share little in their approach to the game.

"We're just two totally different players," Capriati said, adding with a smile, "I don't wake up at 6 in the morning to go practice, that's for sure. ...

"We play a different way. But some things he's complimented me on, maybe even doing better than her."

Capriati reached the semifinals earlier this month at the German Open, her first tournament with Gunthardt, then beat nemesis Serena Williams en route to a runner-up finish at the Italian Open.

Capriati declined to say whether Gunthardt will coach her at Wimbledon.

"We're still making it short term," she said. "We're taking it one at a time basically."

COACHING CAROUSEL: Roger Federer parted ways with coach Peter Lundgren at the end of last season, even though the pairing produced the Swiss star's first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.

Lundgren has a new job now, working with 2000 U.S. Open champion Marat Safin. They teamed up three weeks ago.

"It's going well," Lundgren said in the players' lounge at Roland Garros. "He's got the game to go (far). It's up to Marat."

Safin, the Australian Open runner-up in January, has had a hard time sticking with coaches, going through half a dozen over the past four seasons.

PLAYING FOR KEEPS: Venus Williams has started playing again - the guitar, that is.

Williams brought an acoustic guitar with her to Paris to polish her renditions of such tunes as "Blackbird" and "Unchained Melody." She started playing as a teenager and took lessons, then left her guitar at home when she began playing tennis full time.

"It has been my goal for a long time to start playing again," she said. "So last year when I was injured, it was like, 'Let's do this."'

When asked if she also sings, Williams smiled and said, "I'm working on it."