Van Roost advances while Capriati bows out

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The Independent Online

Dominique Van Roost knows how to beat the top players. She just needs to get over a mental hurdle to get back to that point.

Dominique Van Roost knows how to beat the top players. She just needs to get over a mental hurdle to get back to that point.

Van Roost, who has two wins over No. 2-ranked Lindsay Davenport this season, opened with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over Japan's Ai Sugiyama in Monday's first round of the $535,00 Acura Classic in Carlsbad, California.

The win advanced Van Roost into the second round, where she was to face top-ranked Martina Hingis of Switzerland on Tuesday. Hingis, along with the other seeded players, did not play on Monday.

Van Roost, ranked 15th in the world, is still battling through the loss of her mother, who died of cancer in March. Despite the wins over Davenport, including a first-round victory at the French Open, Van Roost admits it's been hard focusing on tennis.

"The first six months were very tough, but I'm getting better mentally," she said, "But I don't forget, so it's tough."

Jennifer Capriati, a two-time champion in this event, blew a first-set lead, then was steamrolled by Elena Likhovtseva of Russia 6-4, 6-0.

The 17th-ranked Capriati led 4-3 and was up 40-0 on her service in the eighth game before Likhovtseva took over the match. Likhovtseva won the second set in just 22 minutes.

"I think the key was at 4-3 and 40-0 on her serve," said Likhovtseva, ranked No. 23. "I played good the last two games (of the set) and started good in the second set."

Capriati said: "She played well the whole match. The first set was close. I felt I was pretty much in control. Then I lost it. I kind of had a letdown after that and that boosted her confidence."

Van Roost, of Belgium, looked sharp as she broke Sugiyama's serve four times in the first set. Van Roost broke Sugiyama again to go ahead 4-2 in the second set before she began to struggle.

Sugiyama fought back to tie the score 5-5 and 6-6 before Van Roost took control in the tiebreak.

"At the end of the match, I was playing longer," Van Roost said. "I was really focusing on playing fast and trying to play in the corner. That made a difference in the tiebreak."

In other first-round matches, France's Nathalie Dechy defeated Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; and Meilen Tu of the United States defeated countrywoman Mashona Washington 6-2, 6-3.

Van Roost, who also owns career wins over Hingis and third-ranked Venus Williams, knows she'll have it tough against Hingis, who holds a 3-1 lifetime edge and beat her here last year in straight sets.

"She can play all kind of games," Van Roost said of Hingis. "She can do it better than the other ones."

Results from the $535,000 Acura Classic Sanex WTA Tour hard-court tournament in San Diego:

Singles - First Round

Nathalie Dechy, France, def. Anne-Gaelle Sidot, France, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Dominque Van Roost, Belgium, def. Ai Sugiyama, Japan, 6-2, 7-6 (4). Elena Likhovtseva, Russia, def. Jennifer Capriati, United States, 6-4, 6-0.

Doubles - First Round

Amanda Coetzer, South Africa, and Lori McNeil, United States, def. Nicole Arendt, United States, and Manon Bollegraf, Netherlands, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. Lisa Raymond, United States, and Rennae Stubbs (1), Australia, def. Lilia Osterloh and Alexandra Stevenson, United States, 6-2, 6-4.