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  Monday, 21 January, 2002, 04:26 GMT
Capriati stays on course
Jennifer Capriati is congratulated by Rita Grande at the end of their fourth round match at the Australian Open
Capriati was tested by Grande in the second set
Jennifer Capriati took another step towards a successful defence of her Australian Open title with victory over Rita Grande in the fourth round.

Italian Grande, seeded 20, put up some strong resistance in the second set but the American number one seed finally prevailed 6-3 7-6.

Capriati will now face seventh seed Amelie Mauresmo in the quarter-finals.

Rain meant that the fourth round match in the Rod Laver Arena was played under the retractable roof.


It was real test of my patience but I fought through
Jennifer Capriati

Capriati, who was taken to three sets in her third round match, was in control in the opening set as Grande struggled to hold serve.

After a break apiece early in the second set, Capriati looked to have made a decisive break in the seventh game.

At 5-4, the American had a match point but Grande saved it and then went on to win the game after a marathon rally.

The set culminated in an exciting tie-break with Grande squandering two set points.

Capriati also wasted two further match points before a double fault from Grande at 9-10 handed the match to her opponent.

After the match, Capriati admitted that she had had to fight hard in the closing stages of the match.

"In the second set Rita played really well and picked up her game and wasn't missing at all.

Rita Grande executes a backhand volley during her fourth round Australian Open defeat to Jennifer Capriati
Grande had two set points in the second set

"She doesn't give the ball much pace so I couldn't generate much pace on my returns.

"It was a real test of my patience but I fought through. It was a matter of who fought the hardest."

The top seed added that she expected another tough battle against French player Mauresmo in the next round.

The pair last played at the US Open quarter-finals, with Capriati winning.

"I'm looking forward to it," said the American.

"The last time we played I won but I expect she'll come in with a different strategy - it'll be another battle."

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Defending champion Jennifer Capriati
"This match will help me build my fitness"
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