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Serena fights to win tourney



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Williams rallied from an injury to beat Lindsay Davenport.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams overcame a back injury and rallied to defeat top-ranked Lindsay Davenport 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 to win the Australian Open women's title Saturday.

Williams stretched her winning streak at Melbourne Park to 14 matches and captured her seventh Grand Slam singles title, ending an 18-month drought. She also won here in 2003, but couldn't defend the title last year because of an injured knee.

The seventh-seeded Williams, who fended off three match points in her semifinal win over Maria Sharapova on Thursday, made a dramatic comeback after needing a medical timeout in the first set for what a trainer initially described as a rib injury.

"Lindsay had me on the run. My back went out -- I'm not as young as I used to be," Williams said. "Eventually I was able to come back."

Working past injuries

It was Williams' first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2003. She spent months off the circuit because of injuries and her best result in 2004 was a run to the final at Wimbledon, where she lost to Sharapova.

Davenport, who won the last of her three Grand Slam titles here in 2000, won only eight points in the third set.

After Davenport's backhand landed long on match point, Williams dropped to a knee and raised both arms in the air. She held up an index finger before walking over to her entourage in the crowd, slapping hands with her mother, Oracene.

Davenport, who also lost in the women's doubles final on Friday afternoon, said Williams was too strong in the end.

"She's had a tough couple of years, but she's come back like the champion she is," Davenport said.

Back pains

Davenport raced to a 4-0 lead in just 11 minutes in the first set, breaking Williams' serve in the first and third games. Williams appeared to be favoring her right side each time she hit the ball and, after holding serve for the first time in the fifth game, called for the trainer.

The trainer treated her back at the side of the court, and then Williams took an eight-minute break for more treatment.

Williams had a break point in the next game but Davenport held, and closed out the set in the following game with a service winner. Williams just got to the serve on her backhand side, screaming "Ouch!" as she missed with a lunge.

After fending off six break points, Williams held serve in the fifth game of the second set. She twice appeared on the brink of smashing her racket, but held her composure and hung onto the game.

A positive attitude

"I kept thinking, 'I'm not losing this game -- I don't care if my arm falls off,'" she said.

After that, her body language changed, and so did her game.

She held her next service game at love, and then converted her first break point of the set -- after Davenport had game point at 40-0 -- for a 5-3 lead.

Williams won nine consecutive points to pull even at one set apiece, closing with her sixth ace of the set and eighth of the match.

She committed just three unforced errors in the deciding set and her first-serve percentage jumped to 80 percent.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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