Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, August 05, 2001

Seles dismantles Hingis; Williams beats Davenport

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Monica Seles dismantled Martina Hingis 6-3, 6-4 in the Acura Classic semifinals Saturday for her first victory over the world's No. 1 player in three years.

Seles, the seventh seed, advanced for the second straight year to the final, where she'll play No. 2 Venus Williams in a rematch of last year when Williams won in three sets.

Williams faced just three break points on her serve in defeating fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport 6-2, 7-5.

''I play very well against the top players. My game comes to another level,'' said Williams, who was cheered on by sister Serena and father Richard.

Williams has dominated their series since beating Davenport at this tournament in 1999, winning seven of their last nine meetings, including a three-setter in the Wimbledon semifinals in June.

''I had my chances. I could never get over that hump to get a lead,'' said Davenport, who despite the loss will move up to No. 3 in the world while Williams drops to fourth in next week's rankings.

For the first time in eight tournaments this year, Seles has put together consecutive victories over higher-ranked players. She defeated third-seeded Jennifer Capriati 6-3, 6-3 in Friday's quarterfinals, then beat the top-seeded Hingis to end a seven-match losing streak against her.

Austin honors Armstrong with celebration

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texans welcomed home three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong on Saturday with music and tributes in a celebration dubbed ''Vive Lance! Austin's Hometown Hero.''

During the tour, Armstrong mania hit the state's capital city. ''Go Lance'' signs hung in windows and on buildings and cyclists wore yellow jerseys, like the Tour de France leader.

Six days after Armstrong won the tour, the city remained in a festive mood as thousands of yellow-clad Armstrong fans gathered along a stretch of the city's Town Lake that was converted into a concert venue. Many rode their bicycles to the party.

''We're truly touched by your sincerity and your following. It touches our soul that people are here and they care about us,'' Armstrong, flanked by wife Kristin, said after being introduced with video highlights of his victory and a fireworks show.

Rafter, Pavel advance to Tennis Masters final

MONTREAL (AP) -- Ninth-seeded Patrick Rafter advanced to the final of the Tennis Masters Series-Canada on Saturday, beating France's Fabrice Santoro 6-2, 6-2.

Rafter, playing in his first tournament since losing the Wimbledon final to Goran Ivanisevic, will face Romania's Andrei Pavel in the final. Pavel advanced when Germany's Tommy Haas retired because of back spasms.

''I think he's got one of the best backhands in the game. He's a good competitor and he's been serving well,'' Rafter said of Pavel. ''He's very talented, he can have his off days. Let's hope he has one tomorrow, but I'm not expecting that at all.''

Rafter, the 1998 winner in Toronto, is trying to join Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe as the only players to win the event in both Montreal and Toronto.

''The first few matches, I wasn't really there but as the tournament progresses I'm enjoying it more and more,'' said Rafter, who has won two of his three matches against Pavel.

Haas quit moments after Pavel broke him for the third straight time to take a 6-4, 5-0 lead.

''After I broke him in the first set, I thought his serve started to be a little bit slower and not as deep as at the beginning of the first set,'' Pavel said.

Haas' back began bothering him midway through the first set.

''I felt the muscles tighten up and it didn't allow me to move the way I wanted,'' Haas said. ''Once something like this goes to your mind and doesn't go away after a couple of points or a couple of games, it messes up your mind.''

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