Capriati takes working game plan to final with Graf


BARCELONA, Spain -- Jennifer Capriati, who has run into her share of problems this year, found a way to qualify for the women's single final today against Germany's Steffi Graf.

Capriati defeated Spain's Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, on Wednesday to advance the women's final, and Graf beat American Mary Joe Fernandez, 6-4, 6-2.

The semifinal victory is part of a resurgence for Capriati, who earlier this year was battling a weight problem and, reportedly, fighting with her father. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals of all three Grand Slam tournaments this year.

What has been different in Barcelona? "I just started working harder, and I've gotten more in shape," she said. "I feel a lot better on the court."

Capriati is the lone obstacle to prevent Graf from repeating as the Olympic singles champion. She won in 1988, when tennis became a medal sport after a 64-year hiatus.

"I haven't looked at my Olympic medal all that much since I won in Seoul," Graf said. "But I will admit, before I left for here, I went in and took a little peek at it."

Fernandez, meanwhile, advanced to tomorrow's women's doubles final with her partner, Gigi Fernandez, by beating the Unified Team's Leila Meskhi and Natalia Zvereva, 6-4, 7-5. The Fernandezes -- no relation -- will meet top seeds Conchita Martinez and Aranxta Sanchez Vicario of Spain, who downed Australians Rachel McQuillan and Nicole Provis, 6-1, 6-2.

In the men's singles title tomorrow, Marc Rosset of Switzerland will play Spaniard Jordi Arrese. In the semifinals yesterday, Rosset beat Croatian Goran Ivanisevic, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2, and Arrese beat Russian Andrei Cherkasov, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3.

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