Serena Williams faces Davenport in final

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The Independent Online

Strength and power were the decisive ingredients for Serena Williams against Martina Hingis.

Strength and power were the decisive ingredients for Serena Williams against Martina Hingis.

Williams, the defending champion and fifth seed, rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Hingis, the world's top-ranked player, in Saturday's semifinals of the estyle.com Classic in Manhattan Beach, California.

The 18-year-old Williams, ranked No. 7 in the world, lost only eight points in her five service games in the third set - four in the final game - but expressed disappointment in her serve.

"I did not serve well, but I was able to come out on top, I like that," Williams said. "She's No. 1, so I beat the top player in the world."

Williams will face Lindsay Davenport, ranked second in the world, in Sunday's final at the Manhattan Country Club.

The second-seeded Davenport eliminated Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-4 Saturday night for her fourth straight-set win in as many lifetime matches against the 18-year-old Russian.

Williams has beaten Davenport four straight times after losing the first match between the two in 1997. The winner will earn $87,000; the loser collects $43,500.

"It's going to be tough," the 24-year-old Davenport said. "She's very athletic, hits the ball hard. She's beaten me the last few times, so I'm going to have to do some things different."

Williams committed 37 unforced errors, but hit the same number of winners against Hingis, who made 21 of her 23 unforced errors in the final two sets and hit only 12 winners.

"I guess so," said Williams, a 5-foot-10, 145-pounder, when asked if she wore the 5-7, 130-pound Hingis down. "I think maybe she did, that's part of the game. You have to break down your opponent one way or another."

Williams won nine of the final 12 games in the match, which lasted 1 hour, 55 minutes. She had seven aces to only one for Hingis, but six double-faults to two for her top-seeded opponent.

About her high number of unforced errors, Williams said: "I know I hit a lot today. Playing against Martina, you have to go for your shots."

There were nine service breaks in the first two sets, but just one in the third set - when Hingis committed two unforced errors to end the eighth game. Williams then held service to end the match.

Williams hadn't played Hingis since last summer, when she beat her in the semifinals of this tournament and the final of the U.S. Open.

Williams won both of those matches in straight sets. She has beaten the 19-year-old Hingis in four of their seven overall matches.

Williams lost four of the first five games in this match before getting it together.

"I got off to a little slow start," she said. "I was too anxious."

Hingis said she had several opportunities to take over the match, but was unable to do so.

"I let down a little bit in the second set," she said. "I can only learn from this match and try to do better next week (in Montreal) and in the U.S. Open (which begins Aug. 28). There are many more to come."

Hingis was uncertain as to whether Williams wore her down, but did acknowledge her grueling three-set victory over Chanda Rubin on Wednesday night was a factor in this match, saying she was still sore.

"I'm all right," Hingis added with a smile. "I've had better days, though."

Davenport needed 1 hour, 8 minutes to beat Dementieva.

"It was pretty solid," she said. "There are still some things I can do better. The last two matches, I've played better than the last few weeks. I played well enough to get through pretty easily."

There were five service breaks in the first set before Davenport held service in the 10th game.

The only service break of the second set was in the third game, and Davenport had three of her nine aces in the 10th and final game.

Dementieva won only 12 games in her previous three matches against Davenport.

"I think I played my best game against her, unfortunately, it wasn't good enough," she said.

Results from the $535,000 estyle.com Classic Sanex WTA Tour hard-court tournament:

Singles - Semifinals

(5) Serena Williams (US) def. (1) Martina Hingis (Swit) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. (2) Lindsay Davenport (US) def. Elena Dementieva (Rus) 6-4, 6-4.

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Doubles - Semifinals

Kimberly Po (US) and Anne-Gaelle Sidot (Fr) def. Tina Krizan (Sloven) and Irina Selyutina (Kaz) 6-1, 7-5.

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