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Martinez Overpowers Rubin in Final : Tennis: Spaniard's strong forehand and deep serves keep American from charging the net in 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory.


What I did on my summer vacation, by Conchita Martinez. Went to Southern California. Rode motorcycles. Won two tennis tournaments. Went to the beach. Won $159,000. The end.

A simple but true story, as lived by Martinez, the hottest player on the women's tour. The Spaniard, ranked No. 3 in the world, handily dealt with another streaking player--Chanda Rubin--winning the title at the Acura Classic on Sunday, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Boosted by her victory at La Costa last week, Martinez coasted through the draw at Manhattan Beach and in each match gathered strength, which she unleashed in Sunday's final in the form of punishing topspin forehands and deep serves. Rubin, whose style is to attack and claim the net, was pinned at the baseline much of the afternoon, unable to move forward.

"Maybe I could have come in more," Rubin said. "But she was hitting well off the ground. She served well, she played well."

That assessment is backed by Martinez's record this summer. The 23-year-old has twice put together impressive win streaks. She won four consecutive clay court tournaments going into the French Open, where she lost in the semifinal to eventual winner Steffi Graf.

Such a streak might have been expected from a player experienced on clay. But Martinez proved her versatility last year when she won on the grass at Wimbledon. She lost in the semifinals there this year to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, but Martinez hasn't lost a match since.

"I feel confident, I'm in good shape," said Martinez, one of the least analytical players on the tour. What happened in Sunday's final, in front of 6,181 at Manhattan Country Club, was that Martinez started slowly then gained momentum. Rubin got ahead in the first set when she broke at 3-2, taking advantage of Martinez's forehand errors. Rubin served out the set, but her serve proved to be an inefficient weapon.

She was broken in the second game of the second set and again in the sixth game to give each player a set apiece. Martinez poured it on in the third set. She cranked up her serving so that Rubin was unable to handle many of her first serves, allowing Martinez to control points.

Even in losing, Rubin had a successful week. By virtue of victories against two top-five players, Rubin will move up to No. 15 in today's rankings.

Rubin's success this summer signals the emergence of another American in women's tennis. Once Monica Seles plays at the Canadian Open on Tuesday, there will be six American women in the top 20. U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King thought so much of Rubin that she named her to the team.

Rubin's game has been building all summer, beginning with a quarterfinal appearance at the French Open. Rubin was runner-up at Eastbourne, the Wimbledon warm-up tournament, and advanced to the third round of Wimbledon, her best effort ever.

The 19-year-old from Lafayette, La., remains calm about the direction her career.

"She may not seem to be, but she's very excited about everything, she's excited inside," said Chanda's mother, Bernadette. "But at the same time, she's not overwhelmed about what's happening to her."

The former teacher traveled with her daughter to Europe this summer, fortifying her with Pop Tarts and other American delicacies. Rubin's father, Edward, is a U.S. District Court judge whose schedule seldom allows him to watch Chanda play.

This weekend was an exception. Edward Rubin flew to Los Angeles late Friday for what became a multiple celebration: His wife's birthday, their wedding anniversary and his daughter's first-ever win over Gabriela Sabatini.

The family, including younger brother Edward, Jr. who is a nationally ranked junior player, then watched as Rubin knocked off Sanchez Vicario and made it to the second final of her career.

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