Tauziat puts down Capriati, who sees her year as upbeat; Top 5 seeds make quarters of Advanta tournament


VILLANOVA, Pa. -- In the middle of the final set, Nathalie Tauziat tugged on her dark blue, snug tennis dress and looked uncomfortable. Jennifer Capriati, across the net, already was up a break and looking at another break-point opportunity.

The corners of Tauziat's mouth were drooping almost as low as the corners of the dress she kept grasping. But then the fourth-seeded, seventh-ranked player in the world decided to become more aggressive -- and she turned the match around.

Tauziat, who had been 0-for-5 in career meetings against 26th-ranked Capriati, rallied to win their second-round match, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, yesterday and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Advanta Championships at Villanova University.

"I was starting to play better at the end of the second set, and when I held, I just told myself to "Come on!" and then I started playing more aggressive," said Tauziat. "I've won two tournaments in three weeks. Maybe I won this match because I am confident. I am fighting to the very last ball."

Last night, the tournament quarterfinalists became known when No. 3 Venus Williams advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over qualifier Daniela Bedanova.

Williams' victory meant the tournament's top five seeds are still in the field: No. 1 Martina Hingis, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, No. 3 Williams, No. 4 Tauziat and No. 5 Julie Halard-Decugis.

Despite her loss, Capriati reminded everyone that she has had a wonderful season.

After starting the year ranked 113th, she is expected to be 16th when the final regular-season rankings are released Monday.

Capriati's rise came through a series of performances that included winning in Strasbourg, France, to claim her first WTA tour victory in six years and making the fourth rounds at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

She left the U.S. Open in tears after reading a statement to the media dealing with her past but came in here off her second tour victory of the year in Quebec City.

And, if she had won this tournament, Capriati would have qualified for the year-ending Chase Championships in New York next week.

All in all, it has been quite a performance by the 23-year-old, whose career was sidetracked for nearly three years as she struggled with marijuana and growing up.

But Capriati said that even though she had been serving for this match at 5-3 and failed to close it out, she wasn't overly distressed.

"It's OK," she said. "I'm looking at it not as a loss. I've done well the whole year. I had a great year. And now I'm looking forward to next year. I lost playing well. It wasn't like I didn't have a chance."

In Capriati's mind, the match changed in the third set's sixth game. She was up 4-1, and a well-played point that had seen her use a lob to set up a winning forehand volley had brought her a second break-point chance.

It was then that Capriati got what she thought was a terrible call on a serve by Tauziat. Capriati thought the ball was long but officials called it good, and the game reverted to deuce.

Capriati bent over at the waist, venting her frustration. Tauziat calmly waited and then played the next two points brilliantly to hold.

"The momentum changed," said Capriati. "I got a really bad call, and from that point on, she didn't miss a ball."

Then she shrugged.

"You do all you can do," she said. "But that's the way tennis is."

(Results, 8D)

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