Rubin proves fit enough in chase to be champion

CHANDA Rubin last night won the JP Morgan Chase Open in Los Angeles after she overcame defending champion Lindsay Davenport.

In an all-American battle between the two 26-year-olds, fitness proved to be the decisive factor as 12th seed Rubin outlasted her third-seeded opponent to win 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Both players underwent knee surgery in the same week of January, but whereas Rubin was fit by May, former world No 1 Davenport only returned last month. She began well but tired as Rubin got stronger.

Rubin’s victory gave her a fifth career title, her second of the year after Eastbourne.

Third seed Davenport broke to serve out for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Rubin rallied, was always ahead in the tie-break, and sealed her victory by winning the final three games of the two hour, 19 minute match.

Rubin said it was her biggest tournament win, given that she also beat world No 1 Serena Williams and No 5 Jelena Dokic on her way to the final. “It was a difficult match,” she said. “I started off a bit nervous and never really relaxed. What won me the match was that I stayed in there and fought.”

Both players were bothered by the sun at one end of the court on a hot day in southern California, and that resulted in 11 double-faults from Davenport and ten from Rubin.

Davenport was able to compensate with 12 aces, but she failed to find consistency with her groundstrokes or her serve and 12th-seeded Rubin always looked the better athlete.

“She was maybe a little bit tired because this was her first final after being out,” said Rubin. “And I knew if I went in and played a real good match I’d have a chance to win.”

Davenport said the match could have gone either way.

“I had a ton of chances, she had a ton of chances,” she said.

Although Davenport appreciated that she had done well to reach the final in just the third tournament of her comeback, she was more than disappointed with the way she served.

“I’m disgusted. A lot of my game revolves around my serve and I had zero rhythm.”

In Ohio, world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt and Carlos Moya were frustrated by the weather when rain, thunder and lightning forced them off court during the Cincinnati Masters final last night.

The pair were level at 4-4 in the first set when the summer storm halted play after 43 minutes. Australian Hewitt had made the brighter start, breaking the Spaniard’s serve at 1-1, but despite having points at 3-1 for a double break, he was unable to convert them.

With the skies darkening overhead, Moya broke back for 3-3. The downpour also forced two games to start late.

In Finland, teenager Svetlana Kuznetsova picked up not only her first WTA Tour title, but also her second a few hours later. After beating Denisa Chladkova 0-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the final of the Nordea Nordic Light Open, the 17-year-old Russian won the doubles final, with partner Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain as they defeated Eva Bes and Maria Jose Martinez of Spain, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.