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Although Jana Novotna was at less than her best, it was good enough to end Jennifer Capriati's bid to reach her first semifinals in three years.

"It wasn't my best match, but it was an important win," Novotna said after handing the American a 6-4, 6-2 defeat in the $926,000 European Indoors tennis tournament.

The 1992 singles Olympic champion, Capriati has not reached the semifinals of any tournament since the Canadian Open in 1993.

"Almost every time I went to the net I was successful," said the Czech conqueror. "I was surprised she wasn't hitting the ball as hard as usual."

Capriati wasn't so surprised. She said her chronic tendinitis flared up during the match and caused her pain.

"I wasn't really going for it at first," Capriati said. "Then at the end I was trying to go for it but that hurt my arm. I was hesitant and she took advantage of that."

Earlier this year, Novotna became the first player to beat Capriati in her comeback on the tour, eliminating her in the quarterfinals at Essen, Germany.

Capriati intends to go home and rest her arm before tournaments in Chicago and Philadelphia.

The American re-entered the rankings at 103 on April 1, 1996, but has since climbed back to 60th.

In Hong Kong, Pete Sampras and Thomas Muster were ousted from the Marlboro Championships. Sampras, the world's top-ranked player, was upset, 6-4, 6-2, by Zimbabwe's Bryon Black, No. 47 in the rankings. Muster hurt his hip during his match and was beaten, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, by Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman.

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