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Brandi Advances at Italian Open

May 16, 2000

ROME (AP) _ Kristina Brandi defeated 11th-seeded Elena Likhovtseva 6-2, 6-1 today to advance to the second round of the Italian Open.

Brandi, an American who reached the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open, had little trouble with the Russian, the fourth seeded player to fall in the first round.

In other matches, No. 9 Anke Huber of Germany downed Nathalie Zvereva of Belarus 6-4, 7-5; Corina Morariu of the United States outlasted Catalina Cristea of Romania 3-6, 6-3, 7-5; and Chanda Rubin of the United States routed Magui Serna of Spain 6-0, 6-2.

On Monday, Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France stopped No. 10 seed Jennifer Capriati 6-3, 7-5, one of three top players to fall on the first day of the clay-court tuneup for the French Open.

Also losing were No. 14 Nathalie Dechy of France, upset 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 by Jelena Dokic of Australia, and No. 16 Silviya Talaja of Croatia, beaten by Fabiola Zuluaga of Colombia 6-2, 6-3.

Today, No. 1 Lindsay Davenport was to face Elena Dementieva and No. 5 Monica Seles was to play Magdalena Maleeva.

Two seeds advanced Monday _ No. 12 Amelie Mauresmo of France and No. 15 Dominique Van Roost of Belgium.

Capriati’s early exit came 10 years after her professional debut in Rome at 14. Capriati is in the midst of her latest comeback, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open in January. But against Sidor, she was outhustled and outplayed.

``Maybe I just didn’t feel as comfortable out there,″ she said. ``I have to work more on my shape.″

She blamed her rustiness on ankle tendinitis.

``I’m not there at that point of being perfect,″ she said.

Capriati declined to speak about the dark period in her life, when drugs and personal problems forced her off the WTA Tour in 1993. She returned in 1996, achieving mixed results since.

But Capriati did recall her first appearance at the Foro Italico in 1990, when she reached the quarterfinals, losing to Gabriela Sabatini.

``My dad’s Italian, so it was a big deal to come,″ she said. ``It was very exciting playing, a night match, full crowd. That’s what I remember.″

It was the start of a career in which she rose to sixth in the world and captured the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics by defeating Steffi Graf in the final.

``I still love to travel,″ she said. ``I’ve made a commitment to playing, because, you know, it’s something that I really love to do.″

One thing she needs is a new coach. She said she parted on good terms with Harold Solomon, who was credited with helping get her to her first Grand Slam semifinal in nine years in Australia.

Capriati said she is looking for someone she can trust and is very knowledgeable.

``They’re hard to come by, especially for me.″

The field in the $1.08 million tournament also includes Venus Williams, Mary Pierce and Nathalie Tauziat.

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