March 20, 2000
INDIAN WELLS, (California), March 19: Thomas Enqvist made life hard on himself as he spun a tortuous 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (10-8) path to victory over holder Mark Philippoussis, winning on his seventh match point for a finals place at the $ 4.95 million Tennis Masters series on Saturday night.
The 10th-seeded Swede spent two hours, 31 minutes in taming his big-serving opponent, who notched 24 aces in his losing effort. Enqvist, who finished last year as fourth in the world, is now aiming to become the first Swede to win the title since Stefan Edberg in 1990.
Enqvist will square off Sunday against Spain’s Alex Corretja, who dispatched eighth seed Nicolas Lapentti 6-3, 6-4.
In Saturday’s women’s singles final, Lindsay Davenport recovered from a set and a breakdown, turning the tables on Martina Hingis 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.
The Californian engineered a recovery at mid-match while trailing to hand a stunned Hingis a fifth consecutive loss in the pair’s series. Over their last 10 matches, Davenport stands 8-2.
Hingis, the longtime Swiss world number 1 who is now in the dangerzone of being overtaken in the rankings by Davenport, has not beaten her rival since the women’s season finale in November 1998.
“It’s very tough to beat her,” said Davenport, second in the world. “It’s gotten to the point where she doesn’t like to play me. I think the way to beat her is to overpower her.
“I’m Able to do that. She brings out the best in me, I get fired up when I play her. We only seem to play in the finals now.”
Davenport won the last 10 games of the match to run her career record against Hingis to 11-7 after a struggle lasting one hour, 34 minutes.
“She was playing a basic game, but very high level in the whole match, my level dropped at the end,” said Hingis. “I was up 4-2 in the second and it should have been 5-2. I made some easy mistakes, you can’t do that against Lindsay.’
It was all hard work and slog for Enqvist as he struggled throughout against Philippoussis to earn his second win from three matches in their rivalry.
The Swede finally needed seven match points spread over two sets, advancing into the title match when his opponent netted a return. Philippoussis had two match points in the final-set tie-breaker. Enqvist won the opening set and missed a chance to close out the match early as he served for victory leading 5-4 in the second.
But Philippoussis came alive to break to love, squaring the contest and eventually forcing a tie-breaker.
The Swede again looked like he was wrapping it up and getting back to his hotel in time for dinner.
But Philippoussis, seeded 12th had conflicting plans. The Aussie, warned for smashing a racket in two during the eighth game, saved five break points in the decider.
His huge serve came in handy as he salvaged three of the five through aces and evened the match at a set apiece on his own first opportunity when Enqvist couldn’t touch a forehand winner.
In the third set, the pair of seeds traded breaks, with little between them save multiple unforced errors.
Unseeded Corretja came good in an Indian Wells semi-final on his sixth try and becomes the second Spaniard in a row after Carlos Moya in 1999 to reach the title match here.
The one-time world No. 3 is completely over the virus which hampered his game in 1999 and now stands 10-3 this season. The Spaniard won his contest against Ecuador’s Lapentti on a thrilling match point which featured changes of momentum with each strike of the ball as both men scrambled to make long-odds returns.
“I don’t practice that kind of match point every day,” joked Corretja. It was an amazing point, I don’t know how I made that winning backhand — I must have closed my eyes.”
The amiable Spaniard said he never would have thought to make such quick tennis progress again. “The transformation came last November when I had rested, had some time off and started practicing again,” he said.
“When I came to Australia, I was in good shape, but I didn’t have much confidence. I’ve been working day-by-day and it’s going well.”
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