Williams Beats Davenport Again

Monday, July 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — No matter what the standings say, Venus Williams believes she's No. 1. She has to.

``In my mind, I've always been the best,'' she said. ``Because if you go out there and think the other player's better, you're already down 3-0.''

Williams, currently ranked third, defeated No. 2 Lindsay Davenport in the $535,000 Bank of the West Classic, 6-1, 6-4 Sunday. It was her first tournament since beating Davenport in the Wimbledon final.

The top-seeded Davenport, ranked second in the world, had won the past two Bank of the West titles, both against Williams in the final. Last year, Davenport was following up a Wimbledon victory.

``Lindsay did that last year — at my expense,'' said Williams, the second seed.

Davenport said Williams — who had a 122-mph ace in Sunday's match — played better than at Wimbledon.

``I don't think I played that bad today,'' Davenport said. ``Sometimes it's a situation where the other person plays so well, there's nothing you can do.''

Williams upped her unbeaten streak to 11 matches. The last loss was to Arantxa Sanchez-Vacario in the French Open quarterfinals.

Williams easily took the first set under sunny skies at Stanford University. With serves regularly exceeding 110 mph, Williams was composed throughout the 1-hour, 19-minute match. She described herself later as ``precise and deliberate.''

Davenport, who won the Australian Open this year, appeared slow and unfocused in the first set. Williams broke her serve to go up 3-1 with a backhand that Davenport didn't even attempt to return.

In the second set, Davenport mounted a comeback, this time breaking Williams' serve to go up 3-1. But Williams broke right back in the next game to narrow the margin.

With the second set tied at 3-all, the crowd took Davenport's side, cheering loudly when a powerful crosscourt forehand won her the next game.

Williams broke Davenport to go up 5-4, then hit the 122-mph ace in the final game. Match point was a well-placed forehand that Davenport got to but then returned wide.

Williams holds the tour record for fastest serve, 127 mph, set in 1998 at Zurich in the quarterfinals against Mary Pierce.

``I still haven't broken my record yet — which is something I've got to do,'' Williams said.

Davenport and Williams have met 14 times, with Davenport winning nine matches. Williams, however, has won four of the last five, including her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.

Williams made her professional debut in the Bank of the West in 1994, when it was played in Oakland. She has played in the tournament six times — this was her first title here.

Williams reached the finals by defeating ninth-seeded Anna Kournikova 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday. Davenport defeated No. 4 seed Monica Seles 7-5, 7-6 (2) in Saturday's other semifinal.