Tennis: Davenport puts an end to the great Graf revival

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LINDSAY DAVENPORT put a stop to the 1998 Steffi Graf revival on Saturday, beating the resurgent German in the semi-finals of the Chase Championships.

Davenport was scheduled to meet Martina Hingis in last night's final after the Swiss player's 7-6, 6-2 victory over the Romanian, Irina Spirlea.

Just over a month into her reign as the top-ranked player in the world, and a week after losing to former No 1 Graf in the Philadelphia final, Davenport prevailed 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 in a match in which neither the 22-year- old American nor Graf approached top form.

Hingis, looking to end a six-month title drought, managed a 6-2, 7-6 victory over the 15th-ranked Spirlea to earn one last chance this year against the player who seized her No 1 ranking and US Open crown.

Graf had trouble getting her game together early as Davenport sailed through the opening set in 23 minutes. But from 2-2 in the second, Graf began to serve better, stopping Davenport from attacking her second serve with more strategic placement on her initial delivery.

With a 3-2 lead, Graf appeared on the verge of seizing control of the match. She won three break points in the next game, when disaster struck in the form of "a sharp pain."

The German former world No 1 continued to play, but her ability to run was clearly restricted and Davenport, who had herself been suffering from blisters, took the last three games. "I'm disappointed right now, but in general I gave it everything I had in the last three weeks," Graf said.

Hingis appeared to be in for a long day when Spirlea raced into a 5- 1 second-set lead. But the Romanian, who has a habit of mid-match mental lapses, saw the 18-year-old Swiss recover and take the match with a rare ace down the middle.