By turning a slugfest into a tactical match, Patrick Rafter came up a winner.
The Australian captured the du Maurier Open on Sunday by returning the huge serves of Richard Krajicek and playing to the Dutchman's backhand.Rafter's 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory made him the first player to win the Canadian tournament without dropping a set since Ivan Lendl did it in 1988.
"I can't recall playing this well since the U.S. Open last year," said Rafter, the reigning U.S. Open champion. "The conditions were tough, but for some reason I felt really good."
Accepting the trophy and the winner's check for $360,000, Rafter offered a prayer to one of the greatest Australian players, Rod Laver, who celebrated his 60th birthday Sunday in a Los Angeles hospital, where he is recovering from a stroke.
"He needs our prayers," Rafter told the cheering crowd. "We'll send him a lot of love. Get better."
Laver is the only man to win the four major tennis tournaments the same year - the Grand Slam - twice, in 1962 when he was an amateur and in 1969 as a pro.
The 6-foot-5 Krajicek used his big serve to dominate Rafter in six of their seven previous matches before Sunday's final. That tactic didn't work this time.
"I couldn't punish him on my serve," Krajicek said. "That's a shame."
Krajicek had 64 aces in the tournament prior to the final. Against Rafter, he had 10, but got only 59 percent of his first serves in play. And when he did miss a first serve, Rafter made him pay for it, winning the point all three times Krajicek missed his first serve in the tiebreaker.
In Carlsbad, Calif., Lindsay Davenport took advantage of an injury to Mary Pierce to win the Toshiba Classic 6-3, 6-1. Pierce was noticeably troubled by a strained right quadriceps, an injury she said occurred during a Sunday morning practice session.
In Wellesley, Mass., Andres Gomez won his first senior tennis tournament by defeating Henri Leconte 7-5, 4-6, 10-3 in the final of the Sprint PCS Champions.