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Finals Day of the Bank of the West Classic
by Michelle Chuang
The Finals


Singles

Lindsay Davenport vs. Venus Williams

The tournament directors couldnít have asked for a better finals match- up. Both Lindsay and Venus looked to be playing outstanding tennis throughout the tournament. Coming into the match, Lindsay had an overwhelming 7-1 head to head record against Venus. As Venus delicately put it, "that was in the past." The crowd lined up early and anticipated a great match. The match began with Williams double faulting. She added another double fault and unforced error as Lindsay Davenport took the break in the first game. Both players kept holding for 3-1 (Lindsay) with Venus serving. Venusís racquet grip was obviously very sweaty, and when she served the ball, the racquet flew out of her hands. Lindsay just placed it back to Venus as Venus helplessly looked on without a racquet in her hand. Venus ended up holding for 2-3, and she played a masterful game to break Lindsay for 3-3. Both players kept holding until Lindsay got a scare at 4-5 on her serve. Venus had two set points, but two perfectly planned points by Lindsay saved them both. Lindsay eventually held for 5-5. In the following game, Lindsay had an opportunity to break for a 6-5 lead and to serve for the set, but smart play by Venus saved the lone break point. Both players held once more, and we were headed for a tiebreak. Iím not sure what happened to Venus in the tiebreak, but she was just hitting forehand errors everywhere. She wasnít playing smart tennis like Lindsay was. Lindsay just played the crucial points better, so she easily took the tiebreak and set 7-6(7-1). I think that the first set took a lot out of Venus, and she started off the second set sluggishly. Lindsay broke her once and held her service games for 4-1. Venus held her serve for 2-4, and in the next game, she had two break points to get the second set back on serve, but Lindsay responded by hitting four straight service winners to hold for 5-2. Throughout the tournament, Lindsayís serve has been there to get her out of tough situations. In the next game, Lindsay came out firing returns on Venusís service game. She took three points in a row for three match points. The final point was the best point of the match. Venus worked her way to the net and hit a drop shot. Lindsay ran quickly to hit a backhand cross court winner. The whole point seemed like it was played in slow motion to me. Lindsay got to so many shots today. I think that was the difference in the close points. Sheís anticipating a lot better than she used to. The whole crowd gave Lindsay a standing ovation after the great match point and match. Lindsay was definitely the better player today. This is why she is #1 in the world. In the awards ceremony, Venus said she would keep coming back until she won the Bank of the West Classic. Lindsay was plugging the Fed Cup final in September. Today, it was announced that Stanford will host the finals between the United States and Russia. The tennis fans here are great, so that probably had a lot to do with the decision to have it played here. A possible Venus vs. Lindsay semifinal match is very likely next week at the TIG tournament in San Diego.

Interesting note: I spotted Sergei Federov hitting on the practice courts with some guy in my seat while the Venus/Lindsay match was going on. Alla and Anna were watching. Well, Anna was there for a little while, but Alla was there for the complete practice. Sergei is very quick, but ... uh ... his tennis skills need a little work.



Doubles

Lindsay Davenport/ Corina Morariu defeated Anna Kournikova/ Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-4

This was the final match of the tournament, and it ended a wonderful week of tennis. Lindsay had about an hour break between her singles final and her doubles final. It proved to be more than enough though. Whenever Elena made a mistake, Anna would show her disgust, but Anna wasnít perfect herself. On her serve, she always double faulted on the crucial points. Obviously, Anna K is better than Elena in doubles, but I think encouraging your partner instead of getting angry would help. At the beginning, it was Corina that seemed out of sync, but she eventually snapped out of it to play some great tennis. Lindsay had trouble in her service games because she couldnít get down low enough to catch the first volley. It wasnít exactly the highest quality of doubles, but it was enjoyable to the fansÖ I think. There were too many easy unforced errors, and there were many times when I thought watching was a waste of time. Ultimately, Iím glad I witnessed the final match of the week. Lindsay ended up winning her fourth consecutive Bank of the West Classic doubles title. It looks like Corina and Lindsay will be a pair for a while now. Anna said that she will come back next year, and that caused quite an outburst from the crowd. They are also hoping that Anna will come back in September for the Fed Cup finals, but that is not up to her now. It is up to her fellow Russian players who are on the team and the coach.

Any way, I had a great time writing these reports. Thanks to On the Line Magazine, the IMG BOTW associates, WTA communication managers, and the fellow press people for giving me such a great opportunity. Pictures will be added soon.