Tennis: Graf is queen of New York: Men's world No 1 falls in the final of the ATP Tour Championship but his female counterpart secures Slims title

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STEFFI GRAF, the world No 1 and No 1 seed, concluded a dominant year on the women's tour with an impressive 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over the second seed, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, to win the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships in New York last night. It was Graf's 13th successive tournament final.

Graf, who had suffered early defeats in the 16-player season finale for the past two years, started and finished strongly to claim her third title at the Championships in two hours and 10 minutes.

Graf's forehand was fearsnme. Sanchez Vicario, however, seemed to suffering after consecutive three-set struggles on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Sanchez Vicario had overcome the unseeded Mary Pierce, of France, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in a punishing semi-final. Graf, too was pushed to three sets by her fellow German, Anke Huber, in her semi-final, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Sanchez Vicario held off Graf after two deuces on her service at the start of the third set, and then had to have on-court treatment during the changeover, apparently because of a loss of blood pressure. Nevertheless she won the next two games for the loss of only two points. Graf fought back, winning the next three games to pull even. But Sanchez Vicario then accelerated, showing her retrieving abilities as she took the set 6-3. Sanchez Vicario's problem throughout the match was holding serve, however.

'Pretty much from the beginning on I was able to take control of the points,' Graf said after adding the crown to her nine previous titles this year, including Wimbledon and the French and US Opens. It was Graf's 79th career title which tied her in second place with Margaret Court on the women's all-time list.