Capriati Wins The Bell

Singer Christina Aguilera performs during the "Festival di Sanremo" Italian songs contest, in San Remo, Italy, Saturday, March 4, 2006. Aguilera, who performed a duet with Italian singer Andrea Bocelli, is one of the international guest stars featured in a show that aired on Italian State TV RAI.
AP

Jennifer Capriati finally has reason to smile.

The former child prodigy, slowly making a comeback after personal problems forced her off the WTA tour for two years, defeated Chanda Rubin 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the Bell Challenge final on Sunday.

"I'm just so happy now because of the progress that I've made since the beginning of the year," said Capriati, who is now ranked 30th in the world after beginning the year at 100th. "I started off slowly on my serve, but I ended up playing well and picked up my game when I had to."

The title was Capriati's eighth in here career and second this year. She won the Strasbourg Open in May for her first win in six years.

Capriati, seeded fourth in the tournament, had little success with her serve in the first set. The 23-year-old was broken three times and went to deuce on her two other service games.

And even though she lost serve only one other time, she found herself at deuce in four of her other seven service games. She also double-faulted 10 times.

Capriati, whose much-publicized off-court troubles led her to twice leave the tour after reaching the top 10 four straight years in the early '90s, knows there's still work to be done. This year, she's failed to win a set against top players such as Martina Hingis, Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport.

"But I'm not going to put any pressure on myself," Capriati said. "I'm going to take things event by event next year and see what direction I go in after that."

For the second straight year, Rubin fell just short of taking home the $27,000 winner's check. She squandered a first-set lead and two match points in last year's final against Tara Snyder .

"I think I had some opportunities, especially in the third set," said Rubin, who hadn't lost a set in the tournament before the final. "And at the beginning of the second set, I felt like I needed to break her because she has a tendency to run away when she gets the lead. I had a few chances but I missed them. I needed to establish myself but I couldn't. And after that, she got on a roll."

In the first game of the second set, Rubin missed a chance to break Capriati and then went on to be broken twice.

In the third set, the players exchanged breaks the first two games before Capriati went on to win five of the next six games.

"I generally felt like I played some good tennis, but there were spots when I could have done ore," said Rubin, who was ranked as high as No. 6 in 1996 but hasn't been in the top 10 since a wrist injury that year. "But she was going for the lines and making some big shots later on in the match. That's the way she plays."

In the doubles final, Amy Frazier and Katie Schlukebir of the U.S. defeated Cara Black of Zimbabwe and American Debbie Graham 6-2, 6-3.

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