Hingis beats Kournikova to reach Chase final

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The Independent Online

Martina Hingis fought off doubles partner Anna Kournikova today to reach the final of the season-ending Chase Championships for the third straight year where she will meet Monica Seles who beat Elena Dementieva 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

Martina Hingis fought off doubles partner Anna Kournikova today to reach the final of the season-ending Chase Championships for the third straight year where she will meet Monica Seles who beat Elena Dementieva 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

With the crowd pulling for Kournikova, the top-seeded Hingis won 7-6 (2), 6-2. The second semifinal pitted third-seeded Monica Seles against Elena Dementieva, like Kournikova a 19-year-old Russian.

Hingis will be after her second title on the carpet at Madison Square Garden, where the Championships have been played since 1978. Next year, the tournament moves to Munich, Germany. This will be the fourth Chase final for the Swiss star.

Hingis vs. Kournikova was supposed to be the rivalry to match that of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. But while Hingis has ruled women's tennis since 1997, Kournikova has yet to win a tournament.

Yet in their Garden battle, Kournikova matched Hingis stroke for stroke, game for game and service break for service break through the first 12 games. They stood on the baseline and slugged it out.

"We used the whole court," Kournikova said. "I felt confident and wasn't nervous at all."

Kournikova got the first break, in the seventh game of the match. She set it up with a drop shot that the nimble Hingis reached. But when Hingis tried to lift the ball crosscourt, Kournikova was right there to snap a winning backhand volley.

When she pounded a backhand winner on the next point, she had a 4-3 lead. It didn't last long, as Hingis broke right back at 30. And it didn't stop there.

They traded service breaks again in the ninth and 10th games. Then each held to send the set to a tiebreak.

After Kournikova pulled even 2-2 by slapping a forehand into the corner, Hingis picked up her game and won the next five points.

"The tiebreak was the key," Hingis said. "Whoever won the first set had the advantage."

That meant Hingis. And she used it right away to break Kournikova at love to begin the second set. When Kournikova got the set back on serve by breaking her opponent in the fourth game, Hingis raised her game again.

Kournikova muttered a begrudging "Yeah" when Hingis hit an inside-out forehand on the third point of the game. The Russian then double-faulted, one of five in the match for her, then slapped a forehand wide to give back the break.

Hingis broke again in the seventh game after the two battled through four deuces. Kournikova was upset when a shot by Hingis appeared to be long but was not called. That would have given Kournikova the game. Instead, Hingis won the point, taking the game to deuce, then won the next two points to increase her lead to 5-2.

On the changeover, Kournikova rapped her racket against the umpire's chair as she passed, upset over what she felt was a non-call.

Semifinals

(1) Martina Hingis (Swit) def. Anna Kournikova (Rus) 7-6 (2), 6-2. (3) Monica Seles (US) def. Elena Dementieva (Rus) 6-1, 7-6 (4).

Doubles Championship

(2) Martina Hingis (Swit) and Anna Kournikova (Rus) def. Nicole Arendt (US) and Manon Bollegraf (Neth) 6-2, 6-3.

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