Originally created 05/05/02

Venus Williams easily sweeps past Hingis to reach final



HAMBURG, Germany -- Venus Williams beat Martina Hingis in straight sets Saturday to reach the final of the Betty Barclay Open and remain the world's No. 1 player for another week.

Williams dominated with her power tennis, despite the slow clay courts, and converted her fourth match point against to win 6-3, 7-5.

"I felt in control the whole time," Williams said. "Sometimes it's definitely my weakness keeping the ball in play, but today I just felt like I definitely put power on the ball and kept it in the court."

The 21-year-old American, who was taped but showed no signs of an ankle injury, is seeking her third title at the $585,000 event after winning in 1999 and last year. She will face Kim Clijsters, who advanced past an injured Jelena Dokic, in Sunday's final.

Dokic withdrew with a strained thigh while she was ahead 6-4, 4-4.

Williams and Hingis played each other for the 19th time, with Hingis holding a 10-9 lead. It turned out to be one of the easiest victories for the American, who controlled the match with early breaks in each set.

Hingis lost to Williams for the sixth time in eight meetings as she tries to regain the No. 1 ranking she held for 209 weeks before an ankle injury sidelined her late last year.

"I always served to her forehand," Hingis said. "I kept doing the same stupid things, you can't even cry about or get annoyed anymore."

The match was played under a closed roof because of rain.

Williams, who regained the top ranking from Jennifer Capriati this week, is trying for her fifth title of the year. The first-place prize money of $93,000 would move her within $76,000 of $10 million in career earnings.

Capriati could regain the top ranking next week at the German Open.

Williams, once saddled with a reputation for playing poorly on clay courts, is hoping to win the French Open. The only Grand Slam tournament played on clay starts in three weeks.

"It's very important to my priorities, as far as my tennis career goes, probably No. 1," Williams said. "I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to win, but it will be a real dream to win the French."

The existence of the Betty Barclay Open is threatened, according to promoters. The current television contract runs out this year and negotiations for a new one have stalled.

The event, started in 1987, will not be continued without the money or exposure. Interest was high when Steffi Graf and Boris Becker were playing, but it has declined since they retired.