Venus Williams is moving up fast. Martina Hingis, however, is still on top.
In a match showcasing the hottest rivalry in women's tennis, Hingis downed Williams 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 Sunday to capture the Italian Open and get a big lift for this month's French Open.The final between the two 17-year-olds turned after Williams broke serve at love to make it 3-3 in the final set. That seemed to jolt the top-ranked Swiss star, who ran off three games in a row to end the match.
"At the end, I just started thinking more and tried to be more aggressive," Hingis said. "I was surprised at the way she played. She was fighting. She didn't give up until the end."
Said Williams: "In the end she played more aggressive. She decided to go for it and take more chances."
Hingis, who earned $150,000, won her fourth title of the season. She is 30-3 this year, with two of the losses to Williams.
Hingis now has good reason to be encouraged about Paris. The French Open, like the Italian Open, is played on clay and is the only Grand Slam tournament she has not won.
By reaching the final, Williams moves up two places to No. 7 in the WTA rankings after starting the year at No. 22. She will be considered a contender in Paris even though the surface is not be her favorite.
Hingis said Williams plays like "she's No. 2" and the two are starting to give women's tennis the promise of a rivalry reminiscent of Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles-Steffi Graf.
Williams won the previous time they played, at the Lipton tournament in Florida in March. But that tournament was played a hard surface better suited to Williams' power game.
On Sunday, the first set was marked by service breaks and erratic play, Hingis regained her poise quickly to take control. She ran off the last three games and wrapped up the set in 37 minutes.
Hingis mixed the pace and moved the American around, offsetting Williams' quickness.
Williams, however, settled down in the second set and began scoring with her backhand. The two played evenly until Williams broke in the sixth game. She tied the match at a set apiece on her second set point when Hingis hit a forehand into the net.
Midway through the third set, after an exchange of service breaks, Hingis was back in control and on her way to the title.
The $2.4 million men's portion of the tournament opens Monday, featuring 19 of the world's top 20 players, including No. 1 Pete Sampras.
Weary Corretja quits at German Open
HAMBURG, Germany - On a sweltering day when courtside temperatures reached 104 degrees, an exhausted Alex Corretja quit during the third set Sunday to give the German Open title to Spanish compatriot Albert Costa.
"I felt I was dying on court, but I prefer to live," Corretja said before apologizing to the crowd, which applauded loudly.
During the first changeover in the third set, Corretja called for a doctor. After being examined, he walked to Costa and shook his hand. The two embraced and Costa sat on Corretja's bench to await the awards ceremony.
Costa, leading 6-2, 6-0, 1-0 at the time, earned $361,000 in winning the seventh and most significant title of his career. All his titles have been on clay.
"I am disappointed for Alex, but I am happy for me," Costa said.
The tournament began in rainy weather and nearly winter temperatures but ended in scorching heat. That was too much for a weary Corretja and he could hardly move after a few games, let alone withstand a best-of-5 set final.