Hingis to meet Davenport in final

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Home favourite Martina Hingis and American Lindsay Davenport each won their semifinal matches in straight sets today, setting up a clash of the world's top two players in the final of the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich.

Home favourite Martina Hingis and American Lindsay Davenport each won their semifinal matches in straight sets today, setting up a clash of the world's top two players in the final of the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich.

World No. 1 Hingis defeated sixth-seeded American Jennifer Capriati 6-3, 6-2, leaving her just one match away from her first career singles title on home soil. World No. 2 Davenport, making a comeback from injury, routed Austria's Barbara Schett 6-2, 6-1, leaving her poised to win her third title in Zurich.

"I've won tournaments before but I guess it's a little different here," said the 20-year-old Hingis, whose 32 singles titles have all come outside Switzerland. "But I keep thinking I've done this before, I won a title just last week.

"I've been taking this tournament very relaxed and I think it's been my best year here so far."

Davenport, back from a three-week layoff after a sore foot forced her to default from the Sydney Olympics, has gone undefeated her last 20 matches in Switzerland. Since losing her debut match in the tiny Alpine nation in the first round of Lucerne in 1992, Davenport went on to win her first career title in Lucerne the very next year and again in 1994, as well as the Zurich title in 1997 and 1998.

"We've never played each other in Switzerland before, but obviously tomorrow she'll be fired up because it's in her own backyard and she's never won here," said Davenport. "She definitely wants to win here and I'm trying not to lose here.

"I don't know the reason she hasn't. It's one of the few tournaments she hasn't won."

Hingis, despite living nearby the Schluefweg Arena, hasn't enjoyed much of a home court advantage in her five previous appearances.

It was at the Zurich tournament that Hingis, just 14 years old at the time, made her professional debut six years ago. But the Swiss star has only reached the finals twice, losing both times in straight sets: 6-2, 6-2 to Czech Jana Novotna in 1996 and 6-3, 6-4 to American Venus Williams last year.

But if her play so far is any indication, Hingis could finally attain the elusive Swiss trophy, having won all of her matches in straight sets en route to the final.

Davenport leads their heads-to-heads 11-8, but Hingis had the last word. After winning five straight matches against Hingis, Davenport surrendered to the Swiss star in the final in Miami in March the last time they met.

Added to that, the world No. 1 is fresh off her singles and doubles triumph in Filderstadt last Sunday.

"I think I have (the advantage)," said Davenport, undaunted. "Especially indoors. If I play near my best and serve well then indoors I'm hard to beat.

"But she makes life difficult for everybody."

On form, the Swiss proved too difficult for Capriati, though the American was the only player to keep Hingis an hour on the court this week, in a match marked by several sizzling rallies and spectacular precision shots.

While Hingis governed the play from start to finish, she struggled to get on top of the American in the early half of the match, and on several occasions the frustrated Swiss star gave in to brief bursts of temper, once cracking her racket on the ground.

The two exchanged breaks early in the first, but it was only late in the set that Hingis finally prevailed. Down 15-30 at 5-3, the American double-faulted twice in a row to surrender her serve and the set.

It was her serve that cost Capriati the match.

Capriati began by losing her opening service game on a double fault, then again, trailing 40-15 at 4-2, she bungled her serve to literally hand Hingis her fifth career victory over the American

Davenport, who won the Australian Open and Indian Wells before a string of injuries, clinically disposed of Schett in just 48 minutes.

"I was on top of my game and my serve really came through," said Davenport, who served up 11 aces and had a 67 percent success rate on her first serve.

Results from the $1.08 million Swisscom Challenge tennis tournament:

Semifinal

Martina Hingis, Switzerland (1), def. Jennifer Capriati, United States (6), 6-3, 6-2. Lindsay Davenport, United States (2), def. Barbara Schett, Austria, 6-2, 6-1.

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