Tennis: Novotna's joy in New York

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The Independent Online
Jana Novotna, one of the most talented players never to have won a Grand Slam title, held her fragile nerve and swept to a 7-6, 6-2, 6- 3 title win over her French opponent, Mary Pierce, in the Women's Tennis Association Championship in New York.

The 29-year-old Czech, still best remembered for her tears when she threw away a third set lead to go down to defeat against Steffi Graf in the 1993 Wimbledon final, admitted after her victory on Sunday: "Alas, this isn't a Grand Slam victory. But it's the next best thing."

Novotna, who finished the season second in the rankings behind Martina Hingis and who also won the doubles title with Lindsay Davenport, said she had used ice on her legs during the change-overs as a precaution. She had been worried that she would not have the stamina to play through the best-of-five-sets final.

Pierce is still looking to win a set after four defeats against the Czech. Pierce, who beat Hingis in the quarter-finals, said: "It was just one of those days. Nothing I did worked."