2001 Tennis Season Recap: Capriati Comes Back
The Capriati Comeback; The ATP Tour's Youth Movement
For a while it looked like Jennifer Capriati wasn't just going to make a comeback, it looked like she was going to dominate the Sanex WTA Tour.
After finishing 2000 ranked 14th in the world, Capriati blasted out of the gate this year with her first-ever Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. In June she added the French Open, and appeared as if she was ready to win all four Grand Slam titles.
On her way to a sweep she ran into a talented young Belgian named Justine Henin in the Wimbledon semifinals. Henin's victory over Capriati cleared the way for defending champ Venus Williams.
Williams captured her third and fourth career Grand Slam singles titles, successfully defending her Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles in 2001.
The women's tennis world was treated to an extraordinary match-up in early September when the Williams sisters met in the U.S. Open finals. The match itself was a bit of a disappointment, with Venus cruising to an easy victory, but the attention it garnered from the national media was unprecedented.
Martina Hingis' injury troubles opened the door for Capriati to move into the #1 spot in the Sanex WTA Tour rankings in November. Capriati's three-week reign was cut short by Lindsay Davenport who grabbed the top spot in the year-end rankings before an injury kept her out of the final match of the Sanex Championships.
The upstart Belgians defeated Russia in the Fed Cup final. The defending champion United States bowed out of the 2001 tournament after the Sept. 11 attacks, citing a safety concern for its athletes.
Agassi won four tournament titles in 2001 and finished the year ranked third. Agassi had built a substantial lead in the ATP Champions Race in the summer before being caught by tennis' new breed. Pete Sampras, the only other American ranked in the top 10, didn't win any Grand Slam titles for the first time since 1992.
The youth revolution on the ATP Tour was led by Australia's Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt won six titles on the ATP Tour, including the U.S. Open. And, at 20 years old, became the youngest man to earn the year-end #1 ranking since tennis rankings were introduced in 1973.
Last year's champion, Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, finished second in the year-end rankings, capturing six tournament titles including his third French Open.
The biggest surprise of the year was Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic. A wild-card seed at Wimbledon, Ivanisevic upset Patrick Rafter to win his first Wimbledon title.
Hewitt's surge to the top of the rankings culminated with a surprising run at the U.S. Open. Hewitt fended off Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Sampras en route to his first Grand Slam title.
The second ATP Champions Race came down to the wire and was decided at the Tennis Masters Cup event. Defending champ Kuerten, Agassi and Hewitt were all in the running. Hewitt took out France's Sebastian Grosjean in the finals, clinching the top spot.
In December, France pulled out a surprising upset over host Australia in the Davis Cup finals. Frenchman Nicolas Escude held off Wayne Arthurs in the final match on the final day to earn France its ninth Davis Cup title.
And finally, while the tennis world had to say goodbye to Hall of Famer Jaroslav Drobny, it got the chance to welcome the child of recent tennis stars Agassi and Steffi Graf in December.