Sabatini breaks title drought

November 21, 1994|By New York Times

NEW YORK -- In less than two hours yesterday, Gabriela Sabatini ended 2 1/2 years of frustration.

Sabatini broke the serve of Lindsay Davenport 10 times in 14 games, in one stretch breaking the teen-ager six times in a row, en route to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory in the final of the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden.

The victory in a match that took just 1 hour, 41 minutes gave the 24-year-old Argentine her first title since the 1992 Italian Open, a string of 43 consecutive tournaments without a championship.

"It's been very tough," Sabatini said afterward. "The best thing that could have happened to me is to finish the year winning and playing this way. It shows that the tennis is still there, that I didn't lose my game."

Sabatini had thanks for just about everybody she could think of after she was presented with the $250,000 check for winning her first Slims Championship title since 1988. However, she forgot to thank Davenport, who had not lost a set in her three matches here before yesterday.

The 18-year-old with the heavy shots could not find the handle on her strokes from the start. Davenport would fire a winner from time to time, but never was able to string enough of them together.

Davenport made 50 unforced errors, 20 more than Sabatini.

After holding at love in the opening game of the match, Davenport was broken on six consecutive service games.

She became increasingly frustrated, throwing her hands in the air, talking to herself and wearing a look that seemed to say, "What am I doing here?"

What she was doing was getting thrashed in her first three-of-five-set match.

"I missed some shots, then I started rushing," said Davenport, who had not even faced a break point in her semifinal victory against Mary Pierce on Saturday. "Today I just didn't feel comfortable."

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