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Davenport wins first Grand Slam with easy defeat of Hingis
Posted: Saturday September 12, 1998 06:55 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Lindsay Davenport lost her cap, not her cool, and the U.S. Open crowned its first American-born women's champion since 1982.
Davenport, playing in her first Grand Slam final, slammed forehand and backhand winners down the lines and won 12 of the last 15 points in a 6-3, 7-5 win Saturday over Martina Hingis, who lost her touch as she lost her title.
Davenport, who did not lose a set in the seven rounds of the tournament, won a $700,000 prize on her mother's birthday.
"I guess she thinks she's getting a really nice gift now," Davenport said, breaking into a laugh as she looked at her mom, Ann, in the players' box.
In the men's semifinals, unseeded Mark Philippoussis had 21 aces in a 6-1, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over No. 10 Carlos Moya and advanced to Sunday's final against the winner of a match between defending champion Patrick Rafter and top-seeded Pete Sampras. Sampras is aiming for a record-tying 12th Grand Slam singles title.
Philippoussis won 85 percent of his first-serve points, hitting some serves as fast as 130 mph. His second serves were as fast as 120 mph.
Philippoussis, who will be playing in his first Grand Slam final, finally appears to be living up to the potential he showed when he made headlines in 1996 by upsetting Sampras in the third round of the Australian Open.
Davenport is the first American-born woman to win the singles championship since Chris Evert won the last of her six titles in 1982. Martina Navratilova, a native of Czechoslovakia, won the title as a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1983-84 and 1986-87.
Hingis, 17, who retains her No. 1 world ranking despite the loss, was trying to become the youngest woman to retain a U.S. Open title. She had won her previous three Grand Slam finals.
This is the first year since 1990 that four different women have won the Grand Slam singles titles -- Hingis won the Australian Open, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario won the French Open and Jana Novotna won at Wimbledon.
On a sun-drenched day, Davenport got an early service break for a 2-1 lead in the first set by dictating play with sharp volleys and passing shots. Hingis was handcuffed by the wildness that bothered her throughout the tournament.
In the seventh game, at deuce, Davenport got a break when the wind knocked off her white baseball cap as she hit the ball into the net on a tough volley. Umpire Dessie Samuels ordered a let and Davenport won the replay to move to break point.
Hingis looked on in dismay, then lost the next point to give Davenport another service break for a 5-2 lead. When she came back from the changeover, Davenport had secured her cap with bobby pins.
Tennis rules state that a let is called and the point replayed the first time a cap flies off, or a ball falls out of a player's pocket. The second incident leads to a warning, and the third time results in a lost point.
"I don't like this rule, it's unfair for the players like me," Hingis said. "I had that point won, it's her fault if the hat falls down, it's not my mistake. It's a stupid rule. I had a chance to make that point."
Hingis, who complained about several line calls during the match, said it was "pretty ridiculous" that Samuels, from Terrell, Texas, was the umpire for a U.S. Open final involving an American player.
Davenport, who moved past Novotna to No. 2 in the world rankings, wrapped up the first set in 37 minutes with a backhand on the line.
Hingis seemed frustrated at times during the second set, dropping her racket on the court after losing one point and screaming at herself after another.
Davenport broke for a 4-2 lead but Hingis broke right back and again for a 5-4 lead. But Davenport regained control, breaking back as Hingis ended the 10th game with a double fault and shook her head in dismay.
Davenport, whose mobility vastly improved after she lost 30 pounds in the last year, held serve in the next game and finished off the match with another service break -- hitting a backhand volley for a winner on match point.
The champion put her hands on her head in disbelief, then looked lovingly at her racket before smiling at her mom.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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