Sunday, July 28, 2002

Safina beats Nagyova for first WTA Tour title

Tennis roundup

The Associated Press

        SOPOT, Poland — Russian teenager Dinara Safina won her first WTA Tour title Saturday when Henrieta Nagyova quit during the final of the Prokom Open because of a foot injury.

        “I am very happy with this first victory,” said Safina, the younger sister of 2000 U.S. Open winner Marat Safin. “At the beginning of the year I was 172nd on the WTA list, now I'm 105 and I hope to enter the first 100 very soon.”

        The 16-year-old Safina won the first set 6-3 and was leading 4-0 in the second when Nagyova stopped.

        After losing the first game, Safina dominated, hitting powerful forehands and reaching Nagyova's drop shots.

        After the match, Nagyova said she had felt pain in her foot for the past few days.

        “I'll find out how serious it is after consulting my doctor tomorrow,” Nagyova said. “I was planning to take some time off next week anyway.”

        Franco Squillari and Jose Acasuso set up an all-Argentine men's final with victories Saturday.

        Acasuso upset second-seeded Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, 7-6, (5), 7-6 (4), and Squillari defeated Attila Savolt 6-4, 6-3.


        Corretja, Ferrero advance to Generali final

        KITZBUEHEL, Austria — Juan Carlos Ferrero and Alex Corretja won semifinal matches Saturday, setting up an all-Spanish final in the $1 million Generali Open.

        The eighth-seeded Corretja defeated sixth-seeded Gaston Gaudio 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour, and second-seeded Ferrero beat 12th-seeded Mariano Zabaleta 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-3.

        Corretja, the 1998 French Open finalist, dominated Gaudio from the outset and beat the Argentinian for the second time in two weeks. Corretja also beat Gaudio 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) in the final of the Swiss Open.

        “Again, I played great tennis and made no mistakes,” said Corretja, who beat top-seeded Albert Costa in the quarterfinals.

        In the other semifinal, Zabaleta won the first-set tiebreaker. Ferrero, who lost in the final of the French Open last month, evened the match by winning the second set and dominated the third set, advancing to the final in 2 hours, 40 minutes.


        Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters advance to final

        STANFORD, Calif. — Defending champion Kim Clijsters wore down Lindsay Davenport 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Saturday to advance to the Bank of the West Classic final.

        Fourth-seeded Clijsters will face top seed Venus Williams, who defeated Lisa Raymond earlier in the day, in the title match on Sunday.

        Clijsters beat Williams in the final at Hamburg earlier this year to even their career series at 1-1. Williams won in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open last year.

        “Those great players, you have to take advantage when they're not playing their best games — and that's what I did today,” Clijsters said.

        Second-seeded Davenport, playing in her first tour event since November because of a serious knee injury, came out with confidence while Clijsters struggled to find her serve.

        Davenport took advantage — breaking the young Belgian in the first set after two double faults.

        Up 4-2 in the second set, Davenport suddenly lost her edge. Clijsters held serve to go up 5-4, then broke Davenport to win the set.

        Clijsters, ranked No. 5, won seven straight games during the match as Davenport's frustration grew and she was unable to regain her early poise. Davenport won just six points during the stretch.

        “I didn't feel like I was controlling the points anymore,” Davenport said.

        Davenport injured her right knee last in the semifinals of the Sanex Championships against Clijsters. She had surgery in January.

        “I made great strides this week,” said Davenport, who was in good spirits after the match. “These are just the situations I'm going to have to deal with.”

        In the earlier semifinal match at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, Williams overpowered unseeded Raymond 6-3, 6-0.

        Williams, ranked No. 2 in the world behind her sister, Serena, hammered serves reaching 118 mph to fluster Raymond, ranked No. 28.

        “It's always pretty effective, but when it's really effective it's better for me,” Williams said of her serve. “It makes the match a little easier.”

        With father Richard looking on, Williams sealed the first set with two consecutive aces, the first at 111 mph and the second at 110 mph.

        In the second set, Raymond held nothing back, laboring to hit winners from the baseline. But Williams was too much, putting the match away in 51 minutes.

        Raymond remained good-natured throughout, raising her hands in victory when she won a rare point in the second set. The crowd responded with warm applause.

        “I think if I'd kept it a little closer I would have had a better chance,” she said.

        Raymond, at 28 the oldest player in the semifinals, won the title at Memphis earlier this year. She upset third-seeded Monica Seles on Friday in the quarterfinals to advance.

        Williams, who defeated Anna Kournikova to reach the semifinals, went up 4-0 in the second set with two aces and a service winner that Raymond couldn't handle. She finished the match with nine aces.

        Williams lost to her sister in the Wimbledon final, dropping to the No. 2 ranking.

        “Once you get to No. 1, it's not so nice to go back to No. 2,” she said. “Once you get to that level, you try to maintain it.”

        Serena Williams was not playing in the Bank of the West, but was spotted in Los Angeles watching the Mercedes-Benz Cup match between Andre Agassi and Gustavo Kuerten on Friday.

        “Maybe she's trying to learn something,” Williams said. “Maybe I should be there, too.”

        Davenport defeated fifth-seeded Jelena Dokic to advance to the semifinals, while Clijsters beat wild card Jelena Jankovic.

        Kournikova was forced to withdraw from her doubles semifinal match Saturday afternoon because of an abdominal strain. Kournikova and partner Meghann Shaughnessy were scheduled to play Raymond and Rennae Stubbs.

        Kournikova suffered the strain in practice Friday and aggravated it during her matches. She will be re-evaluated to determine her status for next week's Acura Classic in San Diego.


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