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  Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 15:45 GMT
Capriati savours Melbourne glory
Jennifer Capriati
Capriati would not give up her crown without a fight
Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati believes her epic win over Martina Hingis will go down as one of her greatest-ever matches.

Capriati, the defending champion, saved four match points to win 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 in temperatures of over 90 degrees on Rod Laver Arena.

"It will be up there as one of the greatest matches I have played," said Capriati.

"Not just for the actual tennis, but for everything I had to cope with out there."

Capriati said that her inner strength had been the key as Hingis looked to have the match wrapped up when she moved to 6-4 4-0.

Martina Hingis
Hingis could not cope with the soaring temperatures
"I just told myself that even if I have to pass out on the court and be carried off, I just have to do what I can," she said.

"I said to myself 'this is it', I can go home and rest after the match.

"It is the hardest I have ever had to fight and I thought I was going to die out there a few times."

Hingis barely contested the deciding set and herself admitted that after losing the second set the heat had got the better of her.

Break

Ironically, it was Capriati whose conditioning was questioned before the tournament began, a hip injury leading many to question whether the American could survive seven Grand Slam matches.

"I always felt a lot of confidence in myself and maybe others had doubts but it just shows that you can't underestimate anybody," countered Capriati.

"I have a lot more inner strength than what's on the outside and even though I had these little problems here and there, I just overcame them and got stronger as the tournament went on."

Capriati will defend her French Open crown in May, but the 25-year-old is looking forward to a well-earned break before focusing on the rest of the season.

"I don't want to think about the French Open yet," she said.

"I'm going to enjoy this one and I'm going on vacation for a week before I get back into it."

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Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati
"I just really fought hard out there"

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Jennifer Capriati defended her title against a resurgent Martina Hingis Aussie verdict
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