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   Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 11:53 GMT
Capriati is hot stuff
Martina Hingis congratulates Jennifer Capriati after the American's epic victory
Martina Hingis congratulates Jennifer Capriati
BBC Sport Online's Colin Banks reports from day 13 of the Australian Open.


Capriati comes back from the brink

Jennifer Capriati achieved what looked impossible by successfully defending her title against Martina Hingis in a drama-packed match.

The contest had more twists and turns than the average soap opera as Jennifer became the first player for 46 years to win the title from match point down.

The victory was all the more unlikely, as the American world number one became increasingly annoyed with a series of bad line calls.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King
Tennis legend Billie Jean King
After the match, tennis legend Billie Jean King told BBC Sport Online she thought Capriati's frustration would cost her the match.

"I have never seen Jennifer so angry before after all those line calls.

"She just kept displaying negative body language which isn't good.

"Normally when you get that angry on court, it either fires you up or destroys your momentum, in this case it really helped her.

"You can never count Jennifer out. She has such a great heart and fights for every point."

The intense heat - which saw on-court temperatures peak at 46C - played an increasingly significant role in the match.

It was really hard to breathe out there. The air was so thick and hot

Jennifer Capriati

By the end of the second set, both players were sitting on the linesman's chairs after most points desperate to escape the sun and conserve some vital energy.

Capriati admitted after the match; "It was really hard to breathe out there. The air was so thick and hot.

"Even if we didn't have a long rally, I still had to go and sit in the shade after each point."

After the marathon second set, in which Capriati saved four match points before prevailing 9-7 in the tie-break, the players retreated to the locker room for a 10 minute heat break where they lay in beds of ice.

But the cool down was not enough for Hingis, who lost the last five games of the match, and was suffering visibly from heat exhaustion.

"I just couldn't move anymore. I wanted to finish the match though, I didn't want to just walk off the court," she said.

Dejected Hingis suffers in the heat
Dejected Hingis suffers in the heat
"Near the end I just wanted it over. I didn't care anymore."

"I think I paid for it today by playing so much doubles here. I had a long semi on Thursday and the final yesterday in intense heat, so I just didn't have the stamina today."

Capriati now takes a well-deserved break before returning in five weeks' time for the Scottsdale event.

Hingis leaves Melbourne for Tokyo to headline the Pan Pacific Indoor event.


No change in the rankings despite Capriati's victory

The top five remained unchanged in the latest Sanex WTA Rankings announced after the women's final.

Even if Hingis had prevailed, she would have remained at number four.

Capriati now extends her lead at the top of the rankings over Lindsay Davenport who will be out for another four to six months after surgery.

New top five as of 28 January:

1. Jennifer Capriati
2. Lindsay Davenport
3. Venus Williams
4. Martina Hingis
5. Kim Clijsters


Knowles & Nestor celebrate first doubles title

Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor celebrated their first Grand Slam doubles title after defeating the French pair of Fabrice Santoro and Michael Llodra 7-6, 6-3.

Daniela Hantuchova's amazing Australian Open continued when the 18-year-old from Slovakia reached the mixed doubles final alongside partner Kevin Ullyett.

They defeated second seeds Elena Likhovtseva and Mahesh Bhupathi 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in a champion's tie-break to move through to a final against Gaston Eltis and Paola Suarez of Argentina.

Hantuchova, who is playing her second final, after losing the ladies doubles with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, puts her success down to her English coach Nigel Sears.

Her reward will be a career high singles ranking of 25 and a top 20 doubles ranking.


Sharapova's star keeps rising

If you haven't heard of her before, you will do soon. Maria Sharapova has came from nowhere to reach the final of the girls singles unseeded, when most of her competitors are three or four years older.
Rising star Maria Sharapova
Rising star Maria Sharapova

It's an impressive debut for the 14-year-old Russian, tipped as the next Anna Kournikova, in what is her first ever Grand Slam.

She defeated highly-rated Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan 7-6, 2-6, 6-3.

Sharapova spoke to BBC Sport Online after the match.

"This really helps my confidence beating a top player like Hsieh who is already highly ranked," she said.

"I can't believe I have reached a Grand Slam final when I am only 14.

"Today's match was very tough. I was only playing 50%, but I was fighting 100% out there. I just battled it out."

In the final she'll play Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, who defeated her compatriot Eva Birnerova 3-6, 7-6, 6-1.

Britain's only remaining representative admitted that the heat got the better of him.

Jayant Mistry was beaten 6-2, 6-0 by Australia's David Hall in the wheelchair singles.

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