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Tennis briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000

Seles, Hingis reach Championships final

NEW YORK -- Two former champions will play the last Chase Championships to be held at Madison Square Garden.

Monica Seles will be playing for the season-ending title for the first time since 1992. Martina Hingis is in the final for the third straight year.

"It's fantastic," Seles said. "I'm playing the No. 1 player in the world. There couldn't be a better stage to play."

Both reached the title match by beating 19-year-old Russians. Hingis fought off her doubles partner, Anna Kournikova, 7-6, 6-2 before Seles stopped Elena Dementieva 6-1, 7-6.

"I have a very good record against her," Hingis said of Seles. "Hopefully it's going to stay that way."

Hingis and Kournikova later teamed to win their second straight Championships doubles title, defeating Nicole Arendt and Manon Bollegraf 6-2, 6-3.

Since resuming their partnership, Hingis and Kournikova have won four of the five tournaments in which they've played, losing only in the final at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

The Championships, played in the Garden since 1979, move to Munich, Germany, next year.

Seles, who has won the Championships three times, the last in 1992, breezed through the first set in 25 minutes, then was pushed to a tiebreaker.

"Today I let Elena back in the second set," Seles said. "I didn't want to go into a third set."

In their battle on the Garden's blue carpet, Kournikova matched Hingis stroke for stroke through 12 games.

They traded service breaks in the ninth and 10th games. Then each held to send the set to a tiebreak.

"The tiebreak was the key," Hingis said. "Whoever won the first set had the advantage."

That meant Hingis had the advantage, and she used it right away to break Kournikova at love to begin the second set. When Kournikova got the set back on serve by breaking her opponent in the fourth game, Hingis raised her game again.

PARIS MASTERS: Top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten hit a roadblock in his bid to finish the year No. 1, losing to Mark Philippoussis 7-6, 7-6 in the semifinals of the $2.95-million tournament.

The 13th-seeded Philippoussis will face Marat Safin for the title today. The second-seeded Russian defeated 12th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 6-2, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

WOMEN'S OPEN: Third-seeded Anne Kremer of Luxembourg defeated Nadejda Ostrovskaya of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the final. She will face Tatiana Panova, who moved on when Slovakia's Henrieta Nagyova became ill.

* * *

TODAY ON TV: Chase Championships (taped), 2 p.m., Ch. 8; Masters Series, Paris, (taped), 5:30, ESPN.

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