Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
By JIM ARMSTRONG
Associated Press Writer
TOKYO (AP) -- Monica Seles defeated Anna Kournikova in a three-set semifinal Saturday and advanced to face Martina Hingis in the final of the Toray Pan Pacific tennis tournament.
The third-seeded Seles beat Kournikova 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Hingis, the top seed, beat fifth-seeded Silvia Farina Elia of Italy 6-0, 6-4 in the other semifinal.
Seles breezed to a victory in the first set. Kournikova built a comfortable 4-1 lead in the second set and evened the match.
Leading 4-3 in the third set, Seles broke Kournikova with a crosscourt backhand. She then held serve in the final game.
Seles had her second tough match in as many days. On Friday, she beat Alexandra Stevenson 7-6 (9), 7-6 (9).
``I knew coming in that both opponents would be tough,'' Seles said. ``The court here makes it really hard so I'm just glad to pull through in both matches.''
Kournikova, coming off an eight-month layoff due to a foot injury, was pleased with her performance.
``It was a great match and a tough one too,'' Kournikova said. ``I think Monica was a bit stronger mentally in the third set but I have nothing to be disappointed about. I'm starting to find my game and I'm happy about the way I played in the tournament.''
In Saturday's other semifinal, Hingis cruised through the first set and built a 3-1 lead in the second set before Elia won three straight games.
Hingis then broke serve in the eighth game and coasted to the victory.
``There were two or three points that just didn't go my way,'' Hingis said. ``I should have won to go up 4-1, but she got a bit lucky and, fortunately, I was able to come back and break serve in eighth game to take control.''
Hingis will be attempting to win the tournament for the fourth time in six years.
``I've been working on my game for three months and all the hard work is starting to payoff,'' said Hingis, who lost to Jennifer Capriati in the final of the Australian Open.
``I always have a great feeling when I play here. I've had some success in the past and the fans here always seem to be behind me.''