Tennis: Novotna takes title at last

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JANA NOVOTNA ended a sequence of three consecutive defeats in the Leipzig women's final by lifting the title on her 26th birthday yesterday.

Novotna, the No 2 seed from the Czech Republic, beat France's Mary Pierce, the top seed, 7-5, 6-1, in 86 minutes, having lost in the final to Steffi Graf in each of the previous three years.

Novotna trailed 3-0 and 5-2 before pulling her game round. Pierce, ranked fifth in the world, opened with powerful ground strokes to the baseline but found herself having trouble once Novotna regained her pace and began to dominate the net.

The Czech player managed to break back twice to take the first set. In the second, Pierce was broken again to go 2-1 down at which stage she took an injury break for a neck strain. Novotna, ranked one place below her opponent, then reeled off the next four games.

The South African Wayne Ferreira won his second tournament in consecutive weeks yesterday when he triumphed in the final of the Swiss indoor tournament.

The fourth seed followed up his success in Bordeaux last week by beating the American wild card and doubles specialist Patrick McEnroe, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3.

Ferreira was surprised by McEnroe's performance in the first set. 'Patrick played very well,' he said. 'He shook me somewhat but I still felt I would win the match and tightened my game.'