Tennis: Navratilova strikes twice

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MARTINA NAVRATILOVA secured a record 162nd career singles title by beating the unseeded Larisa Savchenko-Neiland, of Latvia, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open indoor tournament in Yokohama, Japan, yesterday.

The American veteran then went back on court with Helena Sukova to win the doubles final, beating Lori McNeil and Rennae Stubbs 6-4, 6-3.

Navratilova, appearing in her first tournament since losing to Monica Seles in the final of the Virginia Slims contest in New York last November, was in devastating form from the outset with her consistently powerful serve and cross-court backhands.

Navratilova broke Savchenko- Neiland's serve in the sixth and eighth games of the first set, but failed to hold her first service game in the second set. However, she soon unleashed a string of accurate and heavy first serves to hold her own serve and went on to break the Latvian in the fourth, sixth and eighth games, wrapping up the match in 56 minutes.

'I haven't won here for a while. I lost in the final the last two years to Gabriela Sabatini, so I'm just happy to win,' Navratilova said. 'It's nice to finally win and to beat Steffi (Graf) in the process. That makes it really special.'

Jeremy Bates's run in the Dubai Open came to an end in the semi- finals yesterday when he was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Fabrice Santoro, of France.

The British No 1, given a wild card for the tournament, put out the German fourth seed Carl-Uwe Steeb in the quarter-finals 7-5, 6-1, but had no answer to the Frenchman yesterday.

Santoro, who beat the top seed Alexander Volkov, of Russia, 2-6 6-4, 6-4 in the quarter-finals, faces the third seed Karel Novacek, of the Czech Republic, in today's final.

Novacek secured his place in the final when he beat the second seed Thomas Muster, of Austria, 7-5, 6-4.