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The 1999 Advanta Championships Wrap-Up
by Beth Knizer
From the 1998 event, no one would have ever expected the reigning title-holder to have retired. But yes, she did. Steffi Graf retired from the WTA Tour right after the U.S. Open, ending a star-studded 15 year career on tour. The tournament did survive without Steffi, though the fans would have enjoyed her presence nonetheless. The singles draw had six of the top ten ranked players (at the time of the event) on the Tour entered. Martina, Lindsay and Venus (no's 1, 2, and 3 respectively) and the French #2 and 3, Nathalie Tauziat and Julie Halard Decugis, and rounding out the other seeds, Amanda Coetzer, Dominique Van Roost and the ever popular Anna Kournikova. Also, the draw included WTA Tour journeywomen, Anke Huber (coming back from injuries), Jennifer Capriati (making a banner year of 1999) and Conchita Martinez. Some young newcomers joined the ranks of the draw for one of the final WTA Tour events of the 20th century, particularly Belgians Kim Clijsters (who nearly upset Serena Willams at the US Open) and Justine Henin (who at 17 won her first WTA Tour title in at Antwerp, Belgium) and new media darling, Alexandra Stevenson.

Some notable occurred upsets in the 1st round... No one would have EVER expected Anna Kournikova to fall in straight sets to the number 70 ranked player on the Tour. At the time, Anna was coming back off of a stress fracture (the injury had her sidelined since August), her record at the Advanta was far from rosey (debuted in 1996; lost first round to Yayuk Basuki) and her opponent, Justine Henin had nothing to lose and everything to gain (taking Anna out 7-6, 6-4). Anna's season did not end at the Advanta since she had qualified for the year ending Chase Championships the following week in New York. Henin's countrywoman Kim Clijsters was looking for ways to end a remarkable season for Jennifer Capriati. That was far from the case, where Jenny Cap prevailed 7-5, 6-3. Hometown gal Lisa Raymond lived up to the local pressures and knocked out number 6 seed Amanda Coetzer in 3 sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Two unsuprising early exits in the first round came to the hands of Julie Halard-Decugis (Conchita Martinez 7-5, 6-2) and Maria Vento (Irina Spirlea 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-2). What I found to be the most amazing combination of powerful groundstrokes was the match between Alexandra Stevenson and Anke Huber. I was very impressed how much power Stevenson has on her serves. Her groundies can be erratic at time, but overall she has a strong game. A very tough loss for Anke Huber, falling 7-5, 4-6, 6-1. It is grand to see Anke back in action once again.

The quarterfinal matchups were true to form. Martina Hingis had no trouble with Chanda Rubin, prevailing in straight sets 6-3, 6-0. Amy Frazier stopped Henin's advancement 7-5, 6-4. Nathalie Tauziat ended Jennifer Capriati's year in 3 sets 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Lisa Raymond defeated Henrieta Nagyova 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Sandrine Testud and Venus Williams had routine straight set matches, defeating Dominque Van Roost 6-4, 6-4 and Williams over Daniela Bedanova 6-4, 6-1. The final pairing too had easy second round matches. Julie Halard-Decugis defeated Maria Vento 6-1, 6-4 while Lindsay Davenport ousted an erratic Alexandra Stevenson 6-2, 6-3.

Three of the four QF matches were decided in straight sets, including a tie breaker and the final deciding match went three sets, sans a tie breaker. Hingis defeated Frazier 7-6(3), 6-4, Tauziat won over Raymond 7-6(3), 6-4, Williams ousted Testud 6-1, 7-6(7) and Davenport bested Halard Decugis 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

The scores of the quarterfinals did not fall suit in the semis. Hingis had an easy time over Tauziat, prevailing 6-4, 6-2. Davenport had an easier time with Williams with a score of 6-1, 6-2. The 1999 Advanta Championship singles title was truly up for grabs. Two times a "bridesmaid" at the tournament (1997 to Hingis and 1998 to Graf) Davenport was ready to take home the title. The third time was the charm, defeating Hingis 6-3, 6-4 and an $80,000 USD champions prize to boot. The doubles title was won by the duo of Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, defeating Chanda Rubin and Sandrine Testud 6-1, 7-6(2).

(Note.... Lindsay Davenport won her first Chase Championships the following week at Madison Square Garden, defeating Martina Hingis 6-4, 6-2.)