INDIAN WELLS — For Lindsay Davenport, this title may have been won a couple of months ago in Australia. The uber-confidence of 19-year-old Martina Hingis of Switzerland had been shredded by Davenport in Melbourne, and Hingis let out a startling admission: She hated playing Davenport--the mental task was simply too difficult.
That may have been a first.
And it gave Davenport some ammunition, the knowledge that she had crept into the head of Hingis. The combination of Hingis' self-doubt and Davenport's confidence certainly is one way to explain Saturday's result. The second-seeded Davenport, of Laguna Beach, staged a marvelous rally, winning the final 10 games to defeat Hingis, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, in the women's final of the Indian Wells Tennis Masters Series.
Davenport, who earned $330,000 for the victory, has lost only once in 20 matches this year. She has reached the final in her last six tournaments.
"It's a little depressing losing to her all the time," said the top-seeded Hingis, who has lost to Davenport five consecutive times.
"Against Lindsay, you have to make four points in a game, not just two or three, then wait for something to happen like maybe an angel coming down."
Hingis was especially shattered because this was the first time of late that she has edged close to victory against Davenport, leading 6-4, 4-2 before giving way. In the seventh game of the second set, Hingis was two points from taking a 5-2 lead, but Davenport held serve and started firing for the lines, remembering what her coach Robert Van't Hof told her Friday.
"All he really said was, 'You know, sometimes you've got to hang in there until you can turn the corner,' " said Davenport, who ended up with 12 aces and 43 winners, compared to Hingis' 14 winners. " 'Maybe she won't give you the opportunity to turn the corner if she's ahead. If she is, just hang with her.'
"It's exactly what happened today. I just hung with her until I was able to barely get on top of her. She kind of folded in a way. Winning 10 straight games is pretty hard to do."
The last time Hingis lost a set 6-0 was at Wimbledon last year when she went out against Jelena Dokic in the first round. But she was in the midst of personal and professional turmoil, not playing at the top of her game as she was for a set and a half Saturday.
Davenport said she was startled to hear the frank admission from Hingis after the Australian Open final.
"You always hear comments from her that are so far the other way," she said. "Like, 'I can't lose to anybody.' Comments [of] that nature. It was a huge thing, especially in front of all those people. It was a little bit shocking. I actually didn't know what to say. I was standing there waiting to get my trophy. I was thinking, if I lost to her [today], I was going to say, she was teasing everybody. It's pretty astonishing."
The last tournament in which Davenport had not reached a final was at Filderstadt, Germany, in October when she defaulted because of an injured wrist. She was playing doubles with Hingis and went to speak to Hingis and her mother, Melanie Molitor.
"I went to go tell her, 'Listen, I can't play the doubles. I'm going home, my wrist is bad,' " Davenport said. "She and her mom looked me right in the eye and they said, 'Oh, hurry back, we need you.' And she [Hingis] said, 'I need you against the Williams sisters. Get better.'
"When I saw her in Philly, she said, 'I'm glad you're back.' We just have that relationship where we stick together in situations. Obviously we compete against each other, but we've always gotten along well."
After Saturday, you wonder if Hingis and Molitor are calling Richard Williams.
Rankings don't reflect reality when Davenport matches up against Hingis. D2
Davenport vs. Hingis
Head to head in final round of tournament
(Davenport leads, 8-3)
Advanta Championship, Hingis, 7-5, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4)
Chase Championship, Hingis, 7-5, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
U.S. Open, Davenport, 6-3, 7-5
Acura Classic, Davenport, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Evert Cup, Hingis, 6-3, 6-4
Pan Pacific Open, Davenport, 6-3, 6-3
Chase Championships, Davenport, 6-4, 6-2
Advanta Championships, Davenport, 6-3, 6-4
Sydney International, Davenport, 6-4, 6-3
Australian Open, Davenport, 6-1, 7-5
Masters Series, Davenport, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0