Venus powers past Seles to take another title

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The Independent Online

Venus Williams took her unbeaten streak to 15 yesterday, defeating Monica Seles, 6-0, 6-7, 6-3, to clinch the WTA Acura Classic in Carlsbad, California, for her third consecutive singles crown.

Venus Williams took her unbeaten streak to 15 yesterday, defeating Monica Seles, 6-0, 6-7, 6-3, to clinch the WTA Acura Classic in Carlsbad, California, for her third consecutive singles crown.

The hard-hitting Williams, defeated by world No 1 Martina Hingis in last year's final, continued the form which also saw her win Wimbledon and the Bank of the West Classic - both over the world No 2 Lindsay Davenport.

On her way to the final, Williams, ranked third in the world and seeded three here, brushed aside Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, the fifth seed Spaniard Conchita Martinez and the giant-killer Amy Frazier, who had ousted Hingis in a quarter-final match.

Seles, ranked sixth and seeded fourth, was attempting to win her fourth title of the year. But the nine-time Grand Slam winner dropped to a 0-3 record against her Sydney Olympic team-mate.

After Williams powered past the former world No 1 in an 18-minute first-set whitewash, she committed three of her 14 double faults, surrendering the second set to Seles.

In the deciding set, Williams used a service break in the fourth game to go ahead 4-1. Seles broke in the seventh to pull back to 4-3, but Williams returned the favour in the next game.

At 5-3, Williams cashed in on her second match point, hammering a forehand winner up the line to end the one hour 44 minute final.

In Toronto, the Russian Marat Safin cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the qualifier Harel Levy of Israel to win the Masters Series and collect his third title of the year.

Safin, who also won in Barcelona and Mallorca, clinched his first win in the Masters Series, lifting him from eighth to fourth in the Champions Race. His serve was a key element in the final as he consistently timed more than 120mph.

Levy, the first Israeli to reach an ATP Tour final since Amos Mansdorf in Tel Aviv in 1994, played aggressively and offered a determined challenge, but committed far too many unforced errors to offer a serious threat. As a result, the eighth seeded Russian was in control for most of the match, only stuttering in the first and final games.

Safin, who saved three match points against Pete Sampras in the quarter-finals, allowed Levy to break his serve in the opening game, but then conceded just four points in his next seven service games. It was only when serving for the match that he almost let Levy back, but he recovered from 0-40 to win in 54 minutes.

"I have more experience than him," said Safin, explaining the ease of his victory. "He got a little bit nervous and didn't know what to do or where to go. It was nothing else, because he can play unbelievable tennis. But in the final it's tough.

"Of course my serve gave me confidence because it makes the game much easier, but I knew how to play him. It wasn't only (a question of) the serve. I could play without, but sometimes you need it to keep him under pressure."

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