Davenport serves up V. Williams, 6-1, 6-2

Win sets up 1-2 showdown against Hingis today

November 14, 1999|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- No. 2 Lindsay Davenport aced her first serve, threw in seven more and 50 minutes later walked off the court with a stunning 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 3 Venus Williams yesterday.

This afternoon, she will play in the Advanta Championships final at Villanova University against No. 1 Martina Hingis, who won her half of the semifinals yesterday, 6-4, 6-2, against No. 4 Nathalie Tauziat.

The meeting between Hingis and Davenport, who last played in their first tournament of the year in Sydney, Australia, will be the second time this season that the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked players have met.

This is Hingis' second trip to the Advanta final in three years, while Davenport is making her third straight appearance. Davenport finished as runner-up each of the past two years, losing three-set matches to Hingis in 1997 and to Steffi Graf last year.

"If you look at my record in finals, it's one of my best records," said Davenport, who has 24 titles in 35 tries, and five of six this year.

Davenport lost to Hingis in a third-set tiebreaker in 1997, and fell to Graf after dropping her serve just once in the 1998 final set.

"I look at those scores and just realize they were both top players and just too good," Davenport said. "But I'd definitely like to take one of these titles home. So, I'm just excited to get another chance."

The atmosphere in the two semifinals was vastly different, despite the similarity in outcomes.

Williams never acknowledged she was out of the match. She tried point after point to forget the score and work at finding her way back into each set, but nothing worked.

In the match between Hingis and Tauziat, the second set seemed much more like an exhibition after Hingis went up a break.

Tauziat was still trying hard, but, she said, she was also having fun. "When Martina and I play, there are always good shots and a good times," Tauziat said. "The crowd enjoyed it. The last six weeks I have played like crazy. I tried to play my best game, but today, she was better. But it was a good time. It was nice."

There is a friendship between the two, Hingis explained. "Nathalie supported me all the time, even in the bad times in the middle of this season [when she came apart in the French Open finals against Graf, and a couple weeks later when she lost in the first round at Wimbledon]," Hingis said. "I have great respect for her, and I think she's one of the best people on the tour as a person."

And, so, when Tauziat would hit one of her tremendous, sweeping cross-court winners at a gallop, Hingis would say, "Unbelievable," smile and get ready for the next point. And when Hingis would win a point off a net cord, Tauziat would pick up the ball, make a face and hit a playful slice back at her. The crowd loved it. There were no playful moments between Davenport and Williams.

Before the match, Williams, who is ranked a career-best No. 3, had said she wants to pry the No. 2 ranking away from Davenport. Yesterday's performance didn't help, but Williams is still in the running for the No. 2 ranking as she heads to New York for next week's season-ending Chase Championships.

"I'm disappointed to lose here, but I've still got a chance at No. 2," Williams said. "And even if I don't get it this year, I'm not retiring at the end of the season. As long as I'm healthy and playing tennis, I've got a chance. Lindsay and I are extremely close in the points race."

Perhaps it was all the talk of rankings that threw Williams off her game, though Williams chalked it up to Davenport's fine play.

"She definitely played good, not many unforced errors," Williams said.

There was no pressure on Davenport, who said she and Hingis laughed in the locker room. "Here we go again," they said. If it's a tournament semifinal, they've come to count on the possibility of one or both of them having to play a Williams sister, Venus or Serena.

And during the match, with Williams struggling with her serve, there was no way for the No. 3 seed to pressure her, either.

As well as Davenport served, that's how badly Williams served. By the third game of the first set, Williams was double faulting on break point. She threw in several more doubles and wound up the evening with three in the final game, including her seventh and final one on match point.

"My service placement wasn't as good as it should have been," Williams said. "But I didn't play any point nearly as well as I would have imagined I would. Lindsay served nicely, got a good high percentage of first serves in, and that made the game all that more easy for her."

Hingis, who watched the match, said Davenport's play gave her much to think about.

"Lindsay played a great match," Hingis said. "I think Lindsay was very motivated against Venus. She wanted to see how good she could be. Against me, I think she will also be motivated. It's the finals."

And it's Davenport's third final.

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