Davenport on top of world


Lindsay Davenport confirmed her status as world number one with victory over a below par Venus Williams in the European championships final yesterday.

The top seed successfully defended her title with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Williams who failed to raise her game to the level she displayed en route to the final.

The key to the match on the lightning-fast indoor surface was always going to be the service, and in this department Davenport proved the stronger.

Davenport stamped her authority early on, breaking Williams in the third game.

But her opponent immediately wiped out the early advantage, fighting back to level at 2-2.

With both players finding their service rhythm, the first set was always destined for a tie-break, but the second seed slipped up with some unforced errors when serving at 5-5 to leave Davenport only having to hold serve to take the first set 7-5.

The second set was characterised in the opening exchanges by three love service games.

Williams, who made a catalogue of unforced errors on her normally deadly forehand, squandered five gilt-edged chances to break serve, with Davenport getting out of jail on each occasion by stepping up a gear.

The US Open champion then clinched the issue on her first match point to maintain her fine record in Switzerland.

As the winner embarks on a well earned rest there was no respite for her vanquished opponent who had an engagement back on court later in the afternoon in the doubles final.

World number one Pete Sampras overcame Karol Kucera 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 to win the Vienna Trophy ATP Tour event yesterday. The top seed took just over two hours to dispose of Kucera and exact revenge for his defeat at the hands of the fifth-seeded Slovak in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open at the start of the year.

Kucera, ranked seven in the world, failed to fire on all cylinders, serving six double faults against Sampras' four.

Kucera started brightly, reading Sampras' serve well and playing precision ground strokes.

But his valiant attempts to win back control of the match in the second set proved too much as he was blown away by the resurgent American in the third.