Hingis Cruises By Williams In Final

NEW YORK -- Venus Williams staked a claim for the future of women's tennis in her sizzling U.S. Open debut. But it was Martina Hingis who grabbed the championship Sunday, reinforcing her stranglehold, at least for now, on the game.

Someday, their first Grand Slam match may be remembered as the start of a great rivalry, ranking with the likes of Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova. At the moment, though, it's all Hingis.

Hingis ended a near-perfect run through the Grand Slams by winning her third major title of the year in a virtually flawless performance against Williams. It was a 6-0, 6-4 drubbing that showed Hingis has the all-court game that's more than enough to cope with Williams' power.

"I just had a great year," said Hingis, who has lost only two of 65 matches while winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon and reaching the French Open final. "You know, 'What can I improve?' Sometimes I ask myself. It's a little scary."

If not for knee surgery before the French Open, she might have swept all four Grand Slam titles.

Hingis did whatever she wanted against Williams, who showed only flashes of the brilliance that carried her to the final in her U.S. Open debut. While Williams slugged impatiently, Hingis waited for her opportunities and put balls away.

It was the youngest matchup of finalists in Grand Slam history, the 16-year-old Hingis against the 17-year-old Williams, and Hingis had the more mature game.

"I think maybe I was nervous," Williams said. "But playing against Martina is a different match. You can't hit yourself out of [trouble] because she takes the pace off the ball a lot."

Yet Williams proved in reaching the final, and in making the second set close, that she has the raw talent to become a champion.

"There was a lot of talk all around," she said of the complaints that she hadn't played enough competitive tennis before this tournament. "I'm glad to quiet it a little."

Williams brushed aside questions about her father's charge Saturday that her on-court collision with Irina Spirlea in the semifinals was racially motivated. "I don't think that's even part of it right now," Venus Williams said, when asked about experiencing racism on the tour. "I don't want to answer that question.

"I think with this moment, in the first year in Arthur Ashe Stadium, it all represents everyone being together, everyone having a chance to play. So I think this is definitely ruining the mood, these questions about racism."