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  Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 05:17 GMT
Capriati comeback stuns Hingis
Capriatie and Hingis at the presentation ceremony
Capriati's fighting spirit clinched her the title
Defending champion Jennifer Capriati battled back from the brink of defeat to beat Martina Hingis in the final of the women's singles at the Australian Open.

The American, who was a set down and 4-0 at one stage, had to save four match points before winning 4-6 7-6 6-2 at Melbourne Park.


I kept fighting... on those match points when I was down I just went for it
Jennifer Capriati

Only twice in the history of the Australian Open has a woman survived a match point to win the final, Capriati matching Mary Carter's 1956 feat.

"I really don't know how I managed to win today," said the top seed after capturing her third Grand Slam in 12 months.

"I kept fighting. On those match points when I was down I just went for it."

Capriati turned the match on its head with some power hitting as Hingis - in her sixth straight Melbourne final - wilted in the heat in a repeat of last year's final.

The Swiss, who needed treatment on a thigh strain in the middle of the final set, could barely hit a ball over the net as the match drew to a close.

Martina Hingis
Hingis sobs as defeat sinks in

Hingis last won a grand slam when she completed a trio of Open crowns in 1999 and has now gone 12 majors without winning a title.

"Today I think I am overwhelmed with feelings," said Hingis.

"I had a tough two months. I came back from surgery and exceeded my expectations. I don't know whether to be pleased or cry about it."

Capriati could not keep up with the penetrating Hingis groundstrokes early in the match and trailed 5-1.

The American did manage to break Hingis in the seventh and ninth games but eventually lost the first set 6-4.

Capriati was clearly rattled and exploded at 15-30 in the second game of the second set.

Jennfier Capriati
Capriati kisses the trophy after her three-set win

Furious about a line call on her baseline for the third time, she tore into umpire Sandra de Jenken.

"Shut the hell up," she screamed at the crowd as fans jeered and whistled her antics.

Capriati eventually calmed down but looked to be on her way to defeat when she dropped the first four games of the set.

She bounced back though, saving four match points before claiming the tie-break 9-7.

After Hingis was given a warning after smashing a second racket, the players took a 10-minute break because of the heat.

Hingis got the first break in the decider for 2-1 but allowed Capriati to break her back.

The American held and then broke Hingis when the Swiss double-faulted on a foot fault.


I just wanted to have it behind me, no matter what.. you should always care but it was just impossible
Martina Hingis

That proved to be the beginning of the end for Hingis, who quickly lost her enthusiasm as Capriati powered relentlessly towards her second Australian open title.

As the American celebrated, Hingis slumped into her chair and was soon in tears.

She later claimed the heat had taken its toll, revealing: "I just felt like my head was kind of all over the place.

"I just couldn't move anymore. I had goosebumps all over my body, it was dehydration."

Hingis, one of the gutsiest fighters in the sport, said it got to the point where all she wanted was to get off court.

"I just wanted to have it behind me, no matter what," she said. "I didn't care at that point. You should always care but it was just impossible."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC tennis correspondent Iain Carter
"Capriati snatched the title from the brink of defeat"
Australian Open winner Jennifer Capriati
"I really don't know how I won today"
Runner-up Martina Hingis
"Jennifer was too good for me today"

Sports Talk SPORTS TALK
Jennifer Capriati defended her title against a resurgent Martina Hingis Aussie verdict
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