Tennis: Wimbledon '99 - Champion's dual pay-day

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The Independent Online
AFTER ALL the recent arguments surrounding equal prize money for male and female players at Wimbledon, Lindsay Davenport yesterday managed to leave with more earnings than the men's singles champion, Pete Sampras.

By winning the doubles title with fellow American Corina Morariu, Davenport collected pounds 83,885 to go with her earnings of pounds 409,500 for winning her first Wimbledon singles title yesterday against Steffi Graf.

Davenport and Morariu defeated Mariaan de Swardt, of South Africa, and the Ukraine's Elena Tatarkova, 6-4, 6-4. Davenport also reached the third round of the mixed doubles, earning her a comparatively meagre pounds 4,550.

That brings her total winnings for the fortnight to pounds 497,935, compared with Sampras's pounds 455,000 for his sixth Wimbledon singles' victory.

The men's doubles title was won by India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, who are now the world's undisputed No 1 pairing after their French Open victory a month ago. The top-seeded pair defeated the No 8 seeds Paul Haarhuis and Jared Palmer, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 in what was their third five-set match of the tournament.

It was was also the Indians' third consecutive Grand Slam final, following their victory over Goran Ivanisevic and Jeff Tarango in Paris and a five- set defeat by Jonas Bjorkman and Patrick Rafter at the Australian Open. The last team to reach three consecutive Grand Slam finals was Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, who reached five straight finals between 1996 and 1997.

"We put a lot more work into this one," Bhupathi said. "This is probably our best performance to date. To be honest, I never thought we could win this tournament. We've never done well on grass, and the last three matches we've beaten really tough teams. All three were comebacks.

"When we won we were just looking at each other. I think I had tears in my eyes and he [Paes] was ready to cry. For us to win Wimbledon, it's always been a dream, and to be honest a dream that we never thought would come true."

One thing that made their triumph all the more surprising was that Bhupathi was suffering from a stomach muscle injury that hindered his play and will now force him to pull out of some upcoming tournaments. "I've been playing with it the last few days," he said. "It's got worse and worse and I can't reach up when the injury is cold."

Not surprisingly, both players credit teamwork for their success. "We fight well together as a team," Bhupathi said. "It's his speed at the net, his quick hands and his speed around the court; I hit my big serves and big returns, and he closes out the point.

"We keep egging each other on. That's why we're so good together as a team, because we're always giving 100 per cent for each other out there."