Fine finale for Becker and Graf

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The Independent Online
Tennis

Boris Becker won the ATP Tour World Championship for the third time after a 7-6, 6-0, 7-6 victory over the American Michael Chang in Frankfurt yesterday, while his compatriot, Steffi Graf, emulated his feat by beating Anke Huber 6- 1, 2-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 at Madison Square Garden in New York to win the WTA Tour Championship.

The Festhalle arena, just a short drive from his home town of Leimen, has become Becker's favourite indoor court. The capacity 9,000 crowd, which included Becker's parents and wife Barbara, roared on every shot from the German.

"You're the best fans I have in Germany, I mean that," Becker told the crowd. "It was tough getting back to take the first set but I played on another planet for half an hour in the second and then it was close again."

Chang said: "Boris served unbelievable today. I have never seen anybody serve like that. But it has still been a great week for me."

In New York, Graf was tearful after winning the season's finale for a fourth time and her ninth title of the year. "It was an unbelievable end to an unbelievable year," she said after collecting her pounds 333,000 winner's cheque. "It's kind of cruel to let you play all year and then make you finish with best-of-five sets. It's the first time I've played a five- setter and Anke really pushed me to the limit."

After starting well Chang, who had upset the American world No 1, Pete Sampras, in Saturday's semi-finals, could not live with the power of Becker, who also won the event in 1988 and 1992.

It was Becker's first triumph at a major event since Frankfurt in 1992. The win earned him $1.2m (pounds 800,000) and he also replaces Chang as world No 4.

The American started well when he broke Becker's serve in the second game. But once Becker took the first set on a tie-break, Chang rarely threatened. Becker won the second set 6-0 and although the third set was tight, Becker produced his best under pressure, finishing off the match with an ace after two hours and 16 minutes.

n Tim Henman, the British No 2, maintained his rise up the world rankings with his third title in four weeks at the ATP Challenger event on Reunion Island, Mauritius. The 21-year-old from Oxford overcame a poor start to beat Germany's Patrick Baur 1-6, 6-3, 7-6, adding to his wins at the Challenger in Seoul and the Nationals in Telford.

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