Tuning up to defend her US Open title, Venus Williams beat Lindsay Davenport 7–6(6), 6–4 here today to win the Pilot Pen tournament for the third straight year.
"I hate to lose. I guess I don't like going into the Open with a loss," Williams said. "I manage to play my best here."
She is the first woman with three consecutive titles at this 34–year–old tournament, formerly known as the US Hardcourt Championships.
Williams also beat Davenport in straight sets in the 1999 Pilot Pen final.
"She's got a great serve so it's hard to really get on the offensive from the beginning," the top–seeded Davenport said. "She can run down balls. You think you have her on the defensive and she comes up with a great shot."
They traded breaks to open the match then held serve into the tiebreaker.
Williams, seeded third, battled back from 1–3 in the tiebreaker, closing it by hitting back–to–back winners.
Davenport had her chances in the second set, leading 4–3 and holding two break points. But Williams won the next four points, including a 164 kph (102 mph) ace, to tie the set 4–4.
Williams broke Davenport in the next game, winning it at the net with a backhander off a Davenport drop shot.
She served out for the match and ran down what appeared to be passing shot from Davenport, hitting a forehand winner to close out the 85–minute match.
"She had a great passing shot," Williams said. "If it wasn't for my height and my one inch extra on my racket, I wouldn't have got that ball."
Williams was coming off a marathon day of tennis, playing a total of 52 games in the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday.
She beat Justine Henin in three sets in the afternoon, then defeated Jennifer Capriati, the No. 2 seeded player, in straight sets. The quarterfinal against Henin was postponed by rain Thursday night.
Davenport, in contrast, had two days of rest. She won her semifinal in a walkover when Kim Clijsters pulled out because of a leg injury.
Davenport wondered aloud if the layoff hurt.
"Not playing, ideally, is not the best situation for myself," Davenport said. "Two days isn't that long but when you're in the flow of the tournament it certainly helps to keep it going."
Williams faced three top–10 players en route to the title here, a good warmup before the U.S. Open, which starts Monday.
"This week was very tough will all the top players here," Williams said. "Usually I meet a top player in the final or semi, but not every match."Reuse content