Hamburg Article after the Semifinal
Venus sweeps past Hingis in Hamburg
Posted: Saturday May 04, 2002 10:26 AM
Updated: Saturday May 04, 2002 11:07 AM
HAMBURG, Germany (AP) -- Venus Williams played nearly flawless tennis Saturday to beat Martina Hingis in straight sets to reach the final of the Betty Barclay Open, a win which insured she will stay the world No. 1 for another week.
Williams dominated with her power tennis, despite the slow clay courts, and converted her fourth match point against her Swiss nemesis and the former No. 1 to win 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 12 minutes.
"I felt in control the whole time," Williams said. "Sometimes its definitely my weakness keeping the ball in play, but today I just felt like I definitely put power on the ball and kept it in the court."
She will face Belgium's Kim Clijsters, the world's third-ranking player, who advanced when Yugoslav Jelena Dokic withdrew with a strained thigh while she was ahead 6-4, 4-4.
Williams, who was taped but showed no signs of an ankle injury, is seeking her third title at the US$585,000 event after winning in 1999 and last year.
Williams and Hingis played for the 19th time against each other, with the Swiss player still holding a 10-9 edge.
Despite heated rallies for points and close battles for games, Williams controlled the match with early breaks in each set. The 21-year-old American also pounced regularly on Hingis' serve, blasting it for easy points or to pressure the Swiss.
"I always served to her forehand. I kept doing the same stupid things, you can't even cry about or get annoyed anymore," said a frustrated Hingis.
Hingis lost for the six time in the last eight meetings to Williams in another setback for her battle to regain the No. 1 ranking she held for 209 weeks before an ankle injury sidelined her late last year.
The match was played under a closed roof because of rain as the two traded some spectacular shots which had the 8,000 spectators on center court roaring and clapping.
Williams, who regained the top ranking from Jennifer Capriati this week, is gunning for her fifth title of the year. The first prize money of US$93,000 (81,000 euros) would move her to within US$76, 000 of dlrs 10 million in career earnings.
Capriati could regain the top ranking from Williams next week at Berlin's German Open.
Williams, once saddled with a reputation for playing poorly on clay courts, said she is now hoping to finally win the French Open, the grand slam played on the surface which starts in three weeks.
"It's very important to my priorities, as far as my tennis career goes, probably No. 1," Williams said. "I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to win, but it will be a real dream to win the French."
The existence of the Betty Barclay Open is threatened, according to the promoters. Negotiations for a new television contract, which runs out this year, have stalled and the event will not be continued without the money or exposure.
The tournament was started in 1987, when Steffi Graf and Boris Becker unleashed a boom for the sport in Germany. Since their retirement, interest has lagged.