Lindsay Davenport claimed her first title in 15 months when she downed fellow former world number one Monica Seles in the Pan Pacific Open tennis final on Sunday.
Davenport fired 16 aces on her way to a 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-2 victory over her ninth-ranked compatriot to reclaim the Tokyo indoor trophy she won in 1998 and 2001.
The victory is expected to move the 26-year-old American up to eighth in the world.
“It’s great to be able to come back and play a higher level of tennis… It was a tough year last year with knee surgery and I wasn’t playing for about seven months, I knew it would take a lot to get back,” she said.
Seles overcame an early service break and then came back from three mini-breaks in the tie-breaker before saving one set point to take the first set.
But Davenport stood firm on her serve and chalked up a 5-0 lead in the second set.
Seles tenaciously saved four set points in the sixth game and another in the following game, only to see Davenport win the set with three aces.
Seles again came back from a break down to tie it at 2-2 in the third set, but serving was critical as Davenport added three aces and three service-return winners before finishing it off with her 16th ace.
“I feel really happy, it’s always great to win a tournament and beat a player like Monica and I’m just happy with the way I played in the last two sets,” said Davenport.
“I was able to get better as the match went on, and it was still a very close match, but it’s great to win here in Tokyo again.
“It was a very tough match. With this court being very fast, it’s important to serve well and I think in the first set we both were serving well, but Monica is probably the best returner, so I knew I had to serve very well today and I think I did that,” added Davenport
Davenport stretched her record against Seles to 10 wins against three defeats, avenging her loss in their previous meeting in November at the Tour Championships where she let slip seven match points.
It was Davenport’s 38th career title and the first since surgery on her right knee a year ago. Her last victory was at Linz, Austria, in October 2001.
Davenport, who missed the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon last season, returned to the Tour in July to reach the US Open semi-finals and finals at Los Angeles, New Haven, Moscow and Zurich.
She reached the final at Sydney in her season-opener last month to climb back into the top 10.
With her victory on Sunday, which brought her the winner’s check of $189,000, Davenport is expected to move up to eighth in the world rankings.
Seles, losing finalist to Martina Hingis of Switzerland last year, had to be satisfied with the $102,000 runner-up prize after failing on the fast surface in Japan for the fourth time.