Davenport, Williams Head to U.S. Open Final

Third seed Venus Williams won a classic three-set war with top seed Martina Hingis today to advance to the final of the U.S. Open tennis championships.

Williams battled back from 3-5 down in the third set, pulling out a spectacular 4-6 6-3 7-5 semifinal triumph to extend her winning streak to 25 matches and keep 1997 champion Hingis from reaching her fourth consecutive U.S. Open final.

The Wimbledon champion will face Australian Open champion Lindsay Davenport in an all-American final on Saturday after the second seed downed unseeded Russian teenager Elena Dementieva 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in the day’s first semifinal.

The Saturday program will also feature the men’s semifinals in which four-time champion Pete Sampras takes on ninth-seeded Australian Lleyton Hewitt after sixth-seeded Russian Marat Safin faces 1999 runner-up Todd Martin.

Hingis Still Beating Williams 9-7

Coming into today’s epic clash, Hingis led Williams 9-6 in career meetings and 3-1 in Grand Slam encounters, including the 1997 U.S. Open final when Williams made it all the way to the championship match in her Open debut.

But Williams won their last major encounter in this year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals and today improved to 6-2 in matches with Hingis that have gone to three sets in what has become the greatest rivalry in women’s tennis since Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

“I just wanted it and I had this winning streak going and she’s already won the U.S. Open and I felt maybe it’s my turn,” said a beaming Williams.

Saturday’s championship match marks the first all-American U.S. Open women’s final since Navratilova beat Evert in 1984, and the first between American-born women since Tracy Austin beat six-time champion Evert in the 1979 final.