Originally created 02/22/99

Novotna stops Venus Williams from winning first title

HANOVER, Germany -- Top-seeded Jana Novotna spoiled Venus Williams' fifth try at winning her first title Sunday, beating her 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Hanover WTA tournament.

Novotna, the world's third-ranked player, rifled a backhand passing shot on her third match point to win her 26th career title.

Novotna took control of the match by breaking Williams' serve at 4-4 in the second set. Novotna, who used her experience to keep the second-seeded Williams off-balance, sent a perfect backhand lob off the run to gain that break.

Williams fought off the first match point by winning a long rally with a sudden attack at the net, while Novotna threw away the second on an easy backhand.

Williams took a 3-1 lead in the first set before Novotna slowed down the match, pouncing on Williams' errors.

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