Davenport Wins Evert Cup, Chang Beats Muster – INDIAN WELLS, Calif

In a quick 64 minutes, fourth seed Lindsay Davenport captured her second consecutive title with a convincing 6-2, 6-1 victory at the Evert Cup over sixth seed Irina Spirlea of Rumania Saturday.
The $205,000 payday for the eighth-ranked Davenport, who will move up one spot in the rankings Monday, was her ninth career tournament triumph. A few weeks ago, Davenport won the Oklahoma City event for her first victory of the year.

A fitter and trimmer Davenport played an aggressive match against the 11th-ranked Spirlea, who will be ranked ninth starting Monday. Spirlea’s game is similar to the big-forehand, slice-backhand style of top-ranked Steffi Graf.

“She plays the same way Steffi does,” Davenport said. “I think against Steffi or Irina, you’ve got to get the second serve to the backhand. You don’t want them teeing off and hitting forehands to start the point off.”

The American mounted an impressive attack on Spirlea’s backhand slice and serve, allowing the Roman ian to hold serve only once, in the opening game of the two-set match.

The runner-up showing was worth $83,000 to Spirlea, who earned her berth in the final by beating top seed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the semifinals.

The pressure Davenport put on Spirlea forced the Roman ian into attempting to do too much, which resulted in 30 unforced errors to Davenport’s 13.

“I hit a few important points close to the line,” admitted Spirlea, who has won four career titles. “I mean, it’s always like this when you are starting and she’s playing well and you want to try to do too much. You’re going to miss.”

Spirlea, playing in her first hardcourt tournament final, was unable to get Davenport to deviate from her planned tactics. In seven break point attempts, Sprilea was successful twice — in the fourth game of the first set and the second game of the second set.

“She really hits the ball very hard,” Spirlea said. “I was surprised. The ball was very, very deep and very hard. You have no time to go back and no time to come into the ball.”

Although the final was an anticlimactic ending to the tournament, Davenport, who lives only a couple of hours away from this desert resort, was helped by having taken part in the most exciting match of the week.

Davenport came from behind to beat young Venus Williams 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-1) in the quarterfinals.

“The match against Venus really helped me for my next two matches,” Davenport said. “It was such a tough match. I had to fight my way back in the third set (from 1-4 and 5-6 down). I’ve learned that the key to how I’m going to play better is how I carry myself and how positively I’m thinking.”

At the Champions Cup, third seed Michael Chang beat second seed Thomas Muster of Austria 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) Saturday to earn the chance to defend his Champions Cup title, against surprise finalist Bohdan Ulihrach.

The unseeded and 43rd-ranked Czech posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory over unseeded and 35th-ranked Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden. By virtue of his semifinal success Ulihrach should move into the top 30 in the rankings.

Ulihrach has had a dream week. He ended Pete Sampras’s 20-0 match winning streak in the second round here. But instead of being overwhelmed by his second career victory over the top-ranked Sampras, Ulihrach’s continued his winning ways.

“You cannot look past his results this week,” Chang said of Ulihrach, whom he has never played. “Although Bohdan is not a top 10 guy at this particular time, he’s had great results.”

Muster and Chang came into the match with identical win-loss records this year of 15-2. Each had won one title in four tournaments played this year. Each has won one Grand Slam, the French Open.

Prior to Saturday’s match, Muster had won five of their six encounters. But the normally tenacious Muster had problems getting around the court, which put him at the mercy of Chang.

“I didn’t feel the ball as I did in the past days,” Muster said. “That’s because of bad footwork. I just didn’t move my legs as I used to.”

“I think in the past I kind of felt, in certain regards, he was stronger than I was,” Chang said.

“I think a lot of times when you get into the long points or the grinding points, sometimes he was able to kind of wear me down a little bit. Hopefully, each time I go out and play Thomas from here on out, I’ll go out there with confidence and remember he’s human.”

Chang whipped Muster in the first set, taking service breaks in the fourth and sixth games.

In the second set, Muster seemed to be bouncing back to his old pugnacious self, but couldn’t keep the momentum going for long.

Muster was unable to take the opportunity to go ahead 5-3 in the second set on two break points in that eighth game.

The tie breaker was all Chang’s as Muster sprayed unforced errors into the net or out of the court. The only point he won was the second when Chang double faulted.

Ulihrach kept Bjorkman pinned to the baseline, preventing the Swede from playing his preferred serve-and-volley game. Bjorkman, who won their only previous encounter, made only three winners on his serve and one with a volley.

“I think he was not playing so well,” Ulihrach said of Bjorkman. “Maybe he was a little bit tired because he played last week and got to the 

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