Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Hingis downs champion in Tokyo


Martina Hingis beat defending champion Elena Dementieva yesterday for a place in the final of Japan's Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament against Ana Ivanovic.

The Swiss second seed, seeking a record fifth Tokyo indoor title this week, avenged her loss in last year's final with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Russian third seed.

Ivanovic, the fifth seed from Serbia, received a free pass to the final after current world No. 1 Maria Sharapova of Russia pulled out of her semi-final match with a left hamstring injury at 6-1, 0-1.

Hingis attacked Dementieva's backhand and chalked up a 5-1 lead in first set. She was never in danger afterwards, forcing a break in the eighth game of the second set and wrapping up the win in 70 minutes.

"That's my strategy for most of the time because I feel like my backhand is a stronger part," Hingis said of her attack on Dementieva's backhand.

"She also hit a lot of backhand cross-court rallies. I also tried to change up to go down the line. It's definitely my big weapon, my backhand cross court," Hingis said.

Ivanovic said her victory over the injured Sharapova was not a good way to win a match.

"From the beginning of the match, I didn't notice anything, because she was moving pretty well and also serving OK," the Serb said.

"I was really surprised that at the end of the set she called a physician and straight away retired, Ivanovic said. "It was surprising that she had a problem."

"It's never nice to win the match that way," she said. "I felt pretty confident and I was happy that each match I played better and my serve was working really well -- that's very important to play against top players."

Sharapova said: "It's always disappointing to end a tournament that way. I definitely tried to find the way, hoping the pain was settled and would get better. That's why I tried to play the first set."

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