Hingis wins to set up showdown with Davenport

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The Independent Online

Martina Hingis, taking complete command after losing the first three games, defeated Mary Pierce 6-4, 6-2 to set up a showdown between the world's top two players in Indian Wells, California.

The top-ranked Hingis faces number 2 Lindsay Davenport, who has won the last four matches between them, in Saturday's Tennis Masters-Indian Wells final.

In the men's quarter-finals on Friday, eighth-seeded Nicolas Lapentti took a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Hicham Arazi, who had upset top-seeded Andre Agassi in the opening round, and No. 12 Mark Philippoussis beat Sjeng Schalken 7-6 (7), 6-4y flawless tennis for the first three games against Hingis. But the match turned suddenly when Pierce began hitting groundstrokes out.

After falling behind 4-1, Hingis lost just three service points as she reeled off a five-game winning streak to take the set.

Pierce, seeded fifth, held service on the opening game of the second set, but Hingis again won five games in a row on her way to victory.

"She came out firing," Hingis said. "I felt like I was in Formula 1, the balls were passing me. I really had to work."

"I got a little tired and she did what she had to do, kept getting the ball back," said Pierce.

Hingis, currently on an 11-match winning streak and 19-of-21 on the year, assured herself of keeping the No. 1 ranking by making it to the semifinals at Indian Wells.

But Davenport is proving to be her nemesis, winning seven of their last nine meetings, including the final of this year's Australian Open, and holding a 10-7 overall edge against her.

"It is going to be a very tough match," Hingis said. "Lindsay has a big serve and big strokes and it's hard to attack her."

Following Davenport's 6-2, 6-1 romp over Elena Dementieva in their semi-final on Thursday, Davenport said she feels she has been playing like number 1 since last fall, and that, if she continues her roll, should regain the top spot. She has won her last 15 matches.

Hingis and Davenport were scheduled to meet in the final of the Scottsdale, Arizona, tournament on March 4, but it was rained out.

Results from the Tennis Master Series-Indian Wells tournament, presented by Newsweek:

Women Singles Semi-final

Martina Hingis (1), Switzerland, def. Mary Pierce (5), France, 6-4, 6-2.


Doubles Semi-final

Lindsay Davenport and Corina Morariu (3), United States, def. Martina Hingis, Swtizerland and Mary Pierce, France (2), 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1.