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Williams sisters best Hingis, Graf; will play each other for title

SHARE Williams sisters best Hingis, Graf; will play each other for title

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Beads never looked better.

Venus and Serena Williams -- sisters, best friends and doubles partners -- now find themselves foes in an unprecedented family final. With their beaded braids clacking and their forehands crackling, the precocious teen-agers scored an impressive sweep Friday in the semifinals of the Lipton Championships.Serena, 17, came from behind in both sets to beat top-ranked Martina Hingis 6-4, 7-6 (7-3). Three hours later, Venus, 18, completed a 6-4, 6-2 victory over five-time Lipton champion Steffi Graf.

The all-sister women's final Sunday will be the first since the Open era began in 1968.

"It will be a great feeling," Serena said.

During an interview on the court, Venus was asked who would win. "A Williams," she said, and the crowd roared with delight.

"It's what we thought we would always do, so it's a wonderful thing," Venus said later. "I really, really hope it's super tennis."

The sisters provided plenty of thrills Friday. Serena rallied from a 4-0 deficit against Hingis to earn her 16th consecutive victory. She needs one more for her third tournament title in a row.

"I've worked really hard all my life since I was 4 years old," Serena said. "There comes a time you have to start winning. All my hard work is finally paying off."

Venus showed a new dimension in her powerful game by playing patiently and waiting for Graf to make mistakes. Williams dominated from the start, taking a 3-0 lead in each set, and broke Graf's serve six times.

"I'm a pretty good player, I guess," Venus said. "I've learned a lot. I've come a long way."

Venus is 2-0 against her younger sister. Their last matchup was in the Italian Open in May 1998, and their only other meeting came in the Australian Open last year.

They'll rarely play the same tournament this year because their father, Richard, prefers that they avoid playing each other. But a matchup in a final is fine, he said.

"I couldn't ask for more," he said. "It's impossible. It's phenomenal. I'm so happy. I'm so proud."

Venus said she and Serena will practice against each other Saturday. Meanwhile, in the men's final, Richard Krajicek will try for his first U.S. tournament title since 1993 when he plays unseeded Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean.

Graf said she had trouble controlling her shots and lost confidence against Williams.

Hingis was simply overpowered by Serena Williams. The difference was often startling -- the final serve from Williams, for example, clocked at 110 mph, while Hingis' final serve was 84 mph. Hingis' serve is the weakest part of her game, and the muscular Williams took advantage by repeatedly ripping return winners.