Davenport beats Seles for estyle.com title

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The Independent Online

American Lindsay Davenport ended countrywoman Monica Seles' run of upsets over top–10 players with a 6–3, 7–5 victory in the estyle.com Classic here yesterday.

Struggling with her serve throughout the 67–minute match, Seles double–faulted on Davenport's second match point.

"I'll take the double fault," Davenport said. "I lost to her here one year and had match point in the finals, so I'll surely take that."

Davenport's title completed a three–week swing through her home state during which she lost in the final at Stanford and lost in the semifinals at Carlsbad last week.

"My California trip has definitely been a success," said Davenport, who lives down the freeway in Laguna Beach.

Although she doesn't have a title to show for it, Seles' trip through the same three California tournaments was impressive. She notched wins over No. 1 Martina Hingis (twice), No. 2 Jennifer Capriati and No. 8 Serena Williams, who blew six match points.

"Since coming back, it's been really great to play such a high level of tennis," said Seles, who has missed most of the year with a foot injury that kept her out of the French Open and Wimbledon.

Would she have predicted her success over Hingis, Capriati and Williams, whom Seles had never beaten before?

"I probably would've said no way," she said.

Seles' defeat was her second to Davenport in two weeks, having lost in straight sets in the Stanford semifinals. Her last win over Davenport came in the 1997 final here, and since then Seles has lost nine in a row.

Seles had a grueling route to the final, including winning three consecutive three–set matches over Sandrine Testud, Williams and Hingis. Seles returned to play Davenport just 14 hours after beating Hingis.

"I really do think fatigue played a factor," Davenport said. "I was hoping Monica would be a little worn out from three tough matches."

Seles committed 21 unforced errors in the match and won just 64 percent of the points on her first serve to Davenport's 89 percent.

"It was a little tough in the beginning because I played all my matches at night," Seles said. "It's been tiring, but it's irrelevant in today's match. She was just a better player out there."

Davenport's power from the backcourt was evident from the first game, when she broke Seles with a backhand winner. Seles couldn't wrangle a break point on Davenport's serve until the eighth game, which Seles won to trail 5–3.

But Davenport, who had eight aces in the match, broke back for the third time in the set and won 6–3.

"I wanted to start off well and get a good lead," Davenport said. "I really think that she did not serve well. It gave me some opportunities to break her."

Seles' game picked up in the second set, when she served two love games, but Davenport continually found the lines and sharp angles with her groundstrokes.

"My game plan was to try and hit some balls going off the court and move her around," Davenport said. "I'm sure she was definitely a little bit sore or tired."

Davenport will move up to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Hingis on Monday, while Seles rises two spots to eighth.

Davenport withdrew from the Toronto tournament that begins Monday because of left wrist tendinitis, although she said her wrist felt good in the final.

Seles, meanwhile, plans to play for the fourth week in a row.

"My draw in Toronto is pretty crazy, but not as crazy as here," she said.

Davenport earned $90,000 for her third title in Manhattan Beach.

estyle.com Classic results

Singles, Championship

(2) Lindsay Davenport (USA) def. (6) Monica Seles (USA) 6–3, 7–5.

Doubles, Championship

(3) Kimberly Po–Messerli (USA) and Nathalie Tauziat (Fra) def. Nicole Arendt (USA) and Caroline Vis (Neth) 6–3, 7–5.