MELBOURNE, Australia — Unseeded Carlos Moya thrashed Michael Chang today to reach the men's Australian Open final in a stunning odyssey that began with a first-round knockout of defending champion Boris Becker.
Moya, seeking to become the first Spaniard to win the championship, outplayed No. 2 Chang from the baseline and the net in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 victory that showed off all of his talent and touch.
The 20-year-old Moya, whose flair on the court and long-haired good looks have made him one of the most popular players with fans, will play for the title Sunday against the winner of Friday's Pete Sampras-Thomas Muster semifinal.
In the women's draw, Martina Hingis, named for a champion and raised since birth to become one, rolled into the final against 1995 titlist Mary Pierce.
The 16-year-old Hingis, seeking to become the youngest Grand Slam champion this century, kept her string of straight-set victories going with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against two-time finalist Mary Joe Fernandez.
Hingis, who hasn't dropped a set in the tournament, produced perhaps her finest performance against Fernandez and assured herself of moving up in the rankings from No. 4 to No. 2 behind Steffi Graf.
"I played almost perfect tennis," said Hingis, named after Martina Navratilova and now in her first Grand Slam final. "I was nervous a few days ago when I saw all the upsets. Today I felt very loose. I wasn't nervous at all."
Hingis credited her ease on court to Magic Girl, the horse that threw her on a jump a couple of days ago.
"It was magic for me," Hingis said. "If I win this tournament, I'm going to buy that horse. Since that day I fell off, I haven't made a mistake."
Pierce's journey back from apathy--she fell from No. 3 to No. 22--to rapture on the tennis court carried her into the final as she bids to become the first unseeded Grand Slam women's champion in two decades.
"When I was in Paris [a few months ago], if someone had told me I'd be in the finals, I probably wouldn't have believed them," Pierce, 22, said.
Blowing on her fingers as if they were smoking after she rifled winners into the corners, Pierce put on as much of a show for fans as she did a clinic for South Africa's Amanda Coetzer in a 7-5, 6-1 rout.
Though Pierce started the second set with an ace, a flurry of unforced errors cost her the opening game. But the composure that abandoned her last year, and too often in her choppy career, returned quickly, and Pierce rolled through the next six games to win in just 74 minutes.
Muster, who produced a rout of his own, is employing a new computer program to analyze the subtle tendencies of players. It appeared to help against No. 3 Goran Ivanisevic, with No. 5 Muster anticipating the direction of his fierce serves enough to break him seven times in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 romp.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Sampras, who said "I don't really know how to use a computer," did know how to wield his racket well enough to serve 23 aces Wednesday night and win his second consecutive five-setter, 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, against Spain's Albert Costa.
"It's all pretty much feel out there for me," said Sampras, who is 7-0 in five-setters in his career at the Australian Open. "You play these guys enough to know what their tendencies are going to be."