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Hingis, Henman win Sydney titles

January 11, 1997

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Martina Hingis collected her third career singles title and further boosted her Australian Open prospects by beating Jennifer Capriati 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 Saturday at the Sydney International.

Hingis, 16, won the women’s final in 84 minutes. Earlier, Tim Henman became the first British player since 1902 to win the men’s singles title when he beat Spaniard Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-1.

The win was Henman’s first ATP Tour title and was expected to push his singles ranking to No. 14 in the world, up from No. 24.

Hingis, the tournament’s second seed, overcame a determined second-set comeback by Capriati, 20, who is continuing her second return to the women’s tour. Hingis will likely move up to fourth place in world rankings from the sixth spot she now holds, while Capriati will likely go to 23 from 37.

Hingis seemed to be cruising when she led 6-1, 4-1 before Capriati, committing fewer errors and finding the range on her groundstrokes, fought back.

The American then won five of the next seven games to take the second set. She led 1-0 and 0-40 on Hingis’s serve in the final set before the Swiss youngster rallied.

Hingis held off the break points, and then broke herself in the third, fifth and seventh games, winning on her fourth match point when Capriati double-faulted.

Capriati had saved one match point at 5-4 in the second set and another two in the last game before presenting her rival with a fourth and handing her the match.

``At 6-4, 4-1 the match just turned around,″ Hingis said. ``She started to play consistently and more controlled and I maybe relaxed at little. I played a little smarter in the third.″

Hingis is now looking confidently forward to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam for 1997, which starts in Melbourne Monday.

``This is great. I always like to play in Australia. I think I have a pretty good draw. I feel much more confident at the Grand Slams,″ she said.

The Czech-born righthander reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 1996 Australian Open and then beat world No. 1 Steffi Graf on her way to the final at the Italian Open. She also reached the U.S. Open semifinals in August.

At the WTA Tour Championships in New York, Hingis pushed Graf to the limit before losing the five-set final. This was her third consecutive final.

``The whole match I didn’t give her anything to play on,″ Capriati said of the loss. ``She’s really solid off the ground and I feel was missing a lot of shots.

``After the second game (of the third set) I kind of lost the momentum. Maybe it would have gone differently if I had won that game.″

Henman, 22, became the first British player to win the Sydney men’s singles title at White City since Dr. Wilberforce Vaughan Eaves in 1902, who was born in Australia, but played Davis Cup for Britain.

The win completes a hectic week for the Oxford righthander. Henman was runnerup to Jim Courier in the Qatar Open last Sunday, his first ATP Tour final.

``It’s great to come away with the title. This is definitely extra special,″ Henman said.

The victory has also quickly fulfilled Henman’s three stated playing goal for 1997 _ to reach an ATP Tour final, to break into the top 20 and to win his first title.

Henman and 20-year-old Moya, who turned pro in 1995, traded blows from the back of the court in the opening games before Moya broke to lead 2-1. But from that point Henman began to assert control.

He won 11 of the last 13 games, breaking back for 2-2 and taking the first set in 34 minutes. He broke three times in the final set _ the third, fifth and seventh games _ and clinched victory when a Moya backhand sailed wide.

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