Hingis falls to Slovakian teenager

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The Independent Online

Daniela Hantuchova won her first WTA Tour title with an unexpected straight-sets victory here over Martina Hingis in the final of the Pacific Life Open.

The Slovakian teenager, seeded 18, defeated the second seed 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes employing a series of powerful drives from the baseline that Hingis had no answer to. In so doing, she became the lowest seed to win a top WTA event (post 1980), breaking the record set by Jelena Dokic, who was seeded 14th when she won in Rome last year.

Hantuchova overpowered Hingis with her groundstrokes, firing 30 winners and easing into a 6-2, 4-1 lead before the magnitude of the moment seemed to overcome her.

Hingis twice broke Hantuchova's serve to win three of the next four games and move within a game of levelling the match. But the Bratislava-based youngster collected herself long enough to serve out for the match.

Hantuchova is the latest addition to the crop of power players who have knocked Hingis off the top of the tennis world. The Swiss player won five out of the nine Grand Slam titles on offer from 1997-99 but since then she has lost three consecutive Australian Open finals – to Lindsay Davenport in 1999 and Jennifer Capriati in the last two years.

"It's like a dream coming true," Hantuchova said. "I enjoyed every minute out there. This was my first final ever, in such an important tournament, and playing one of the greatest players and beating her the way I did was just unbelievable. I just tried to put pressure on Martina and move her around. Everything just came together."

Hingis added: "She just played very fearless, had nothing to lose. Somehow, she managed always to hit it on the lines or just inside the lines."