Venus Wins Pilot Pen Title

Venus Williams can't be rushed these days.

Monica Seles tried it Friday and lost.

Lindsay Davenport, with her relentless return of serve, gave it a go Saturday. Same result.

The teen-ager with the best serve in women's tennis dispatched both top 10 players in straight sets, beating Davenport 6-2, 7-5 to win the Pilot Pen championship. Williams, 19, has beaten Davenport in their last two meetings.

Davenport, the world's No. 2 player, holds an 8-3 edge in their career meetings.

"When you are getting overpowered you kind of rush and you make an error," Williams said. "I don't feel overpowered by her anymore."

The difference she said is confidence, better technique and a lot of hard work. She also isn't succumbing to pressure.

"If I didn't feel I had a chance to win I can go home and get a lot of other things done," Williams said. "I don't feel the pressure. It is just a game. I enjoy playing it."

She's also enjoying a banner year. Her No. 3 world ranking is the highest in her five-year career.

The Pilot Pen title is Williams' fifth of the year, and moves her one behind No. 1 Martina Hingis, who has six.

Venus Williams is all smiles heading into the U.S. Open thanks to her win Saturday.
Williams and Davenport battled from the baseline for most of the one hour, 24 minute match as their hard-hitting styles kept them well off the net. Williams had the speed to track down Davenport's rifle returns and the athleticism to turn them into points.

Williams served her seven aces at the crucial points. Davenport, conversely, struggled with her service game and double-faulted three times in the final game.

Down 4-5 in the second set, Williams, the second-seed, fought off two set points and evened the set when Davenport double-faulted. Davenport only won three points the rest of the way.

"Venus is going to be tough to beat. She's athletic and extremely fast. Those are some great assets to have," said Davenport, who has four singles titles this year, including Wimbledon.

The tournament was the final tuneup before the U.S. Open, where Davenport will defend her 1998 title.

"I know I can play better than I did today," Davenport said. "You just have to start over right now and get ready for next week."

In fact, Davenport aims to start Saturday night. She had a practice court reserved at the U.S. Tenis Center, at 6 p.m., just three hours after the Pilot Pen final.

Williams, who has eight career singles titles, reached the U.S. Open final in her first try in 1997 and said she's ready for Flushing Meadows.

"I've been ready since the first time," said Williams. "I guess it wasn't the right time."

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