Another Capriati Comeback Falls Short

MELBOURNE, Australia - Jennifer Capriati's comeback in the Australian Open turned into a departure in tears reminiscent of her last trip Down Under four years ago.

Amid whipping winds, wild shots and hundreds of moon balls by Jolene Watanabe, Capriati's return to the Australian ended with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 loss today in the first round.

Capriati, ranked No. 24 after reaching the final of the Sydney International last week, insisted that this loss won't have the same effect as her last visit, after which she was arrested and went through drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Though she lost to a fellow American ranked No. 78, Capriati said she will learn from this experience.

"I'm not going to let this discourage me at all," said Capriati, 20. "I have enough desire to work to reach my potential still."

The men's top seed, Pete Sampras, avoided the kind of upset that sent Boris Becker packing yesterday, cruising past Romanian qualifier Dinu Pescariu 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

Two-time champion Jim Courier finally put away Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.

Jonathan Stark of Seattle lost to Lionel Roux 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 13-11, and No. 13-seeded Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands fell to Christian Ruud of Norway 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 10-8. In other men's matches, No. 3 Goran Ivanisevic, No. 8 Wayne Ferreira, No. 9 Marcelo Rios and No. 16 Alberto Berasategui all won.

Fourth-seeded Martina Hingis, whose $10 million sponsorship deal with Italian sportswear company Sergio Tacchini was announced today, beat Barbara Rittner 6-1, 7-5.

In other women's matches, No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, No. 5 Anke Huber, No. 7 Lindsay Davenport, No. 14 Mary Joe Fernandez and No. 15 Chanda Rubin advanced. Sixth-seeded Iva Majoli of Croatia lost to Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 7-5, 6-1.