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Hingis Keeps Cool, Knocks Off Novotna

When Martina Hingis’ early lead evaporated in the hot sun, so did her patience. She lost the first game of the final set, then sent her racket skidding across the court.

Fans booed. “Racket abuse, Miss Hingis,” the chair umpire announced.

Hingis regained the lead, then held on. No more tantrums, no upset. She delivered the only ace of the match on the final point and defeated Jana Novotna 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in a grueling semifinal Thursday in the Lipton Championships.

“I got my first warning this tournament,” the volatile 16-year-old Hingis said with a smile. “Still, not as bad as the other tournaments.”

Saturday’s final will pit Hingis against Monica Seles, who beat Barbara Paulus 6-1, 6-0.

Hingis, 25-0 this year, will become the youngest No. 1 player in history when the new WTA Tour rankings are released Monday. She replaces Steffi Graf, who missed the Lipton because of a knee injury.

In the men’s draw, Jim Courier advanced to today’s semifinals by beating No. 4 seed Goran Ivanisevic 6-2, 7-6 (7-2). He will face No. 2 Thomas Muster, who beat Jonas Bjorkman 7-5, 6-2.

Top-ranked Pete Sampras plays Spaniard Sergi Bruguera in the other semifinal.