Capriati's return stalls

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Jana Novotna ended Jennifer Capriati's comeback when she beat the American in three sets in the quarter-finals of the WTA tournament in Essen yesterday. The Czech won 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 to set up a semi-final meeting with Anke Huber.

Capriati, who won the first two matches in her first tournament since a brief appearance in November 1994, served for the set in the first but allowed herself to be broken. She lost the tie-break although she had another set point at 6-5.

Capriati bounced back against the defending champion, winning the second set - but only after dropping her serve again while serving for the set.

After allowing Novotna to break back and level at 5-5 in the first set, Capriati left for the locker room to receive treatment on her left hamstring. The former world No 6 returned about five minutes later, with the hamstring strapped up.

Huber reached the semi-finals with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over her fellow German Barbara Rittner.

In the other semi-final, top seed Iva Majoli, of Croatia, who defeated Els Callens, of Belgium, 7-5, 6-4 will face Sweden's Asa Carlsson who beat Rennae Stubbs, of Australia, 7-6, 6-2.

Britain's Greg Rusedski slumped to a straight-sets defeat against Pete Sampras in the Kroger St Jude tournament in Memphis. Rusedski lost the battle of the big-servers 7-6 7-6 in their third-round encounter as Sampras booked his spot in the quarter-finals.

The pair traded aces until the tie-breaks, Sampras winning the first set when Rusedski sent a passing shot wide and the second set with his 10th ace of the match.