Williams beats Capriati in State Farm final

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American Serena Williams did herself and her sister a favour by beating countrywoman Jennifer Capriati 6–2, 4–6, 6–4 here yesterday in the final of the State Farm Women's Tennis Classic.

The loss by Capriati means Venus Williams will keep the No 1 world ranking for at least a second week. Serena Williams, who was ranked ninth, will move up to No 6 when the WTA announces its rankings today.

Serena Williams won in her first appearance in Scottsdale and first competition since she sprained her right ankle in a semifinal in Sydney in early January.

Capriati, displaced by Venus Williams a week ago, came in as the top–seeded player in the $585,000 Scottsdale event and No 2 in the world.

But she wasn't able to regain the edge she once enjoyed against Serena, beating her four straight times – the last two in Grand Slam quarterfinals – after Williams won their first meeting in Berlin in 1999.

Williams broke the streak by winning a three–set final on a hard–court surface in Toronto last August, and overpowered Capriati in the harsh sunlight of the low desert in this meeting.

Williams ended the match with a 112–mph ace, her second of the 10th game and her 11th of the match.

On the preceding point, Williams raced to the net for a smash off a low lob by Capriati, who could not clear the net with her return.

It was a return of the power game that Williams flashed in the first set, when she broke Capriati in the first, third and fifth games and held service to go ahead 5–0.

Capriati broke back in the sixth game and held service, but Williams won every point in the eighth game.

Capriati, who was unbeaten in 11 matches since qualifier Alexandra Stevenson upset her in the second round at Sydney, her first 2002 tournament, won the Australian Open after becoming the first Grand Slam champion to fight off five match points in the final, a 4–6, 7–6 (7), 6–2 victory over Swiss Martina Hingis.

She showed the same pluck in the second set, countering Williams' strength with accurate groundstrokes and lobs.

She broke Williams in the second and fourth games to lead 3–1 and, after failing to hold service in the ninth game, broke Williams in the 10th.

In the final set, Capriati double–faulted three times in the pivotal third game, including on break point to send Williams to a 2–1 lead.

Venus Williams, who has won three titles this year, was upset by Sandrine Testud of France last week in the semifinals of the Dubai Open after she appeared to hurt her left leg. She skipped the tournament to rest at home in Florida.