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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kournikova Blazes Path to First Final




KEY BISCAYNE, Florida -- Rising Russian star Anna Kournikova, knocking down top 10 players like bowling pins, upended Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to set up a final of teen sensations with Venus Williams at the Lipton Championships.


Kournikova, on a roll in her fledgling career, downed the eighth-seeded Spaniard 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 Thursday to reach her first career final on the WTA Tour and made tennis history along the way.


The 25th-ranked 16-year-old became the first player -- male or female -- to pick off top 10 players in four consecutive matches, and she did it in four days.


She has dispatched fourth-ranked Monica Seles, ninth-ranked Conchita Martinez and world No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, before handing Sanchez her second defeat of 1998.


"I'm showing everybody I can play," Kournikova said. "I proved to everybody that I can play good tennis a lot of matches in a row."


The Russian was deprived of a chance at five top 10 players by 11th seed Williams, who powered her way past No. 1 Martina Hingis 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.


Hingis saved three match points in the second set, but succumbed to the American's ferocious groundstrokes and aggressive net play in the third.


The Swiss phenom, who won this event last year, had saved two match points in her quarterfinal with Williams' younger sister, Serena, before pulling out a tough win in a third-set tiebreaker.


"Well, I guess it's pretty difficult to play the Williams family two matches in a row," Hingis said after suffering her second loss to Venus this year.


After an error-filled first set under windy conditions in which Kournikova dropped four straight service games, the transplanted native of Florida began painting the lines with laser-like groundstrokes, piling up 27 winners to 12 by Sanchez.


"I began attacking her forehand more and keeping the ball in play and playing more aggressively," said Kournikova, who continued her stellar net play, winning 19 of 33 trips to net.


"I believe I can make any shot at net," the confident Russian teen added. After dropping the first set, Kournikova reeled off 11 of the next 13 games for a commanding 5-1 third-set lead.


In men's play, three-time Lipton champion Andre Agassi and eighth-seeded Spaniard Alex Corretja posted straight sets wins to set up a semifinal meeting. A resurgent Agassi raised his record against compatriot Jeff Tarango to 7-0 with a 6-4, 6-3 quarterfinal victory.


"I'd say efficient," said Agassi, who has never dropped a set to Tanango, in characterizing his play in the 71-minute match. "Just kind of yeoman, hard hat, lunch pail, go to work and get the job done."


In a night match, Corretja ended the Cinderella run of American qualifier Steve Campbell 6-3, 6-1.


Campbell, the first qualifier to reach the quarters in the 14-year history of the tournament, earned $52,550 -- roughly a quarter of his entire earnings in six years on the ATP Tour.


The other men's semifinal pits 20th-ranked Briton Tim Henman against third seed Marcelos Rios of Chile, who can claim the world No. 1 ranking by winning the tournament.