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TENNIS

Williams Draw String Continues

November 03, 2002|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

The familiar sight of Serena Williams and Venus Williams meeting in another significant final could unfold at Staples Center in the season-ending $3-million WTA Championships.

It happened in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in 2002, so why not again?

As usual this year, the sisters were seeded first and second and placed on opposite sides of the draw, which was conducted Saturday in Santa Monica. The tournament, which moved from Munich, Germany, to Los Angeles, will open with first-round matches Wednesday and conclude Nov. 11 with a Monday night final. It is a single-elimination format.

If form holds, top-seeded Serena, the defending champion, would face No. 3 Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals, and No. 2 Venus would meet No. 4 Justine Henin of Belgium. Serena beat Venus in three Grand Slam finals this year -- the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. Capriati won the first major of the season, the Australian Open in January, and has not won a tournament since.

The draw didn't grant any favors to close friends Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport, who will meet in the opening round. The sixth-seeded Seles has not played a tournament since the week after the U.S. Open because of injuries, and Davenport has been playing regularly to qualify for this event, a car ride away from her home in Laguna Beach.

Venus Williams has not played much more than Seles since the Open and faces a tricky first-round opponent in Patty Schnyder of Switzerland. Venus has been idle since Oct. 3, when she lost to Magdalena Maleeva in Moscow. Schnyder, meanwhile, defeated Davenport in three sets to win the title at Zurich last month.

Belgians Henin and No. 5 Kim Clijsters could meet in the quarterfinals, and the two seem to have a way of running into each other, most notably when Clijsters beat Henin in the semifinals of the 2001 French Open. Clijsters has defeated Henin twice in three matches this year.

Anna Smashnova of Israel, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Anastasia Myskina of Russia are first-time qualifiers for the event.

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