Davenport overpowers Seles in Pan Pacific final

Lindsay Davenport won her first title since returning from a serious knee injury, overpowering Monica Seles 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday in the Pan Pacific Open.

“I haven’t played much in the past year,” said Davenport, the former top-ranked player who had surgery on her right knee a year ago. “I have a good opportunity over the next few months and my ranking can only go up. I hope to be in the top five by Wimbledon.”

The third-seeded Davenport, No. 10 in the rankings, relied on a booming serve and solid groundstrokes to beat the top-seeded Seles in 1 hour, 43 minutes.

“I think losing the first set was a big wakeup call for me,” said Davenport, also the Pan Pacific winner in 1998 and 2001. “The last two sets were some of the best tennis I’ve played in years.”

After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Davenport jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and then reeled off three straight aces to serve it out.

“My serve was a big part of it,” said Davenport, 10th in the WTA rankings. “Monica is one of the best returners in the game and I knew I had to serve well to win.”

Davenport broke Seles three times in the final set before closing out the match with an ace, her 16th of the day at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

“I started getting a lot of hard deep returns,” Davenport said. “And that allowed me to break her in the last two sets.”

As Davenport got stronger, Seles struggled with her game and had trouble keeping up with Davenport’s serve.

“She places her serve very well,” Seles said. “And on this surface it becomes exaggerated because it’s very fast.”

Seles, also the runner-up last year to Martina Hingis, had a chance to get back in the match in the third set, but was broken in the fifth game.

“Lindsay picked up her game and my serve went away,” Seles said. “I tried to hold serve in the last set but when she broke me the second time to go up 3-2, I knew I was pretty much out of the match.”

Seles, who bowed out of the Australian Open in the second round after injuring her ankle, is 3-10 against Davenport.