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Hingis captures US OpenShe beats Williams, 6-0, 6-4, for 3d grand slam title of year
By Allen Lessels, Globe Staff, 07/08/97
NEW YORK -- Venus came crashing to Earth.
Martina Hingis, the world's best player until -- perhaps even when -- Steffi Graf gets back, had a lot to do with that.
Three out of four is not bad.
Hingis won the Australian Open, finished second in the French, won Wimbledon, and yesterday -- with a resounding 6-0, 6-4 win over Venus Williams -- won her first US Open championship.
She made the most of the 1997 majors; never lost a set here; and has a 65-2 match record for the season.
So what does Hingis, who turns 17 this month, do for an encore?
``I just had a great year,'' Hingis said. ``What can I improve? Sometimes I ask myself. It's a little scary. I haven't won the French Open so that's kind of my goal.''
Yesterday, Hingis had it all over Williams, who was game but overmatched. Hingis's touch and movement, her all-around game, were way too much for her powerful but unseeded and largely untested opponent.
Hingis collected $650,000 with the win to run her earnings for the season to a women's record $3,058,811. Williams, who had won $73,861 this year coming into the Open, made $350,000.
It was harder than it looked, Hingis said.
``I didn't think it was very easy,'' Hingis said. ``I just played very good tennis out there, especially in the first set.''
And there's no such thing as a set being ``too easy'' Hingis said.
``I liked the way it was,'' Hingis said. ``It's like, you know, the US Open finals. If you win the first set 6-love, OK, I'll take it.''
Hingis dominated into the second set, faltered just a bit and recovered quickly to finish off Williams.
By the end of the first set, Williams was having trouble getting points on her service games -- she had a single point in each of her last two.
``I was just trying to think of what I could do to get in the match, what I could change,'' Williams said. ``I just felt that I should have pulled my game together, maybe slow it down, do something a little different.''
Williams had 17 unforced errors in the first set to seven for Hingis. That's been a problem before and something she needs to work on, she said.
Down a service break and 2-4 in the second set, Williams rallied. She held serve for only the second time in the match and broke Hingis for 4-4.
Williams served and took it to 30-love.
Not to worry.
``She wasn't missing at all, especially the last two games,'' Hingis said. ``But I knew if I lose that game I'm going to be serving with the wind and that's easier. Even if it would be 5-4 for her, I thought I would make it to 5-all and then it would be a good game.''
But here, Williams ran into problems. She doublefaulted. Hingis hit a backhand down the line, on the line. A Williams shot hit the net and bounced wide. She put a forehand into the net and Hingis had broken right back.
Hingis served for the match and went to 40-15 on a backhand by Williams into the net. Williams had a nice return on a Hingis serve, but Hingis volleyed a winner and it was over.
Hingis shook hands with Williams and then headed to a corner box of seats, throwing her racket into the crowd on the way. She jumped up and grabbed her mother's hands and was pulled up for a kiss. Back at her chair, she threw a couple more rackets.
She and Williams stood at the center of the court for the awards ceremony.
``We want Steffi,'' yelled someone from the crowd.
Bring her on.
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