Martina Hingis answered questions about the state of her game in decisive fashion yesterday with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Venus Williams in the TIG Classic.

"That was a great test for me to see where I'm at right now," Hingis said. "I feel like I'm pretty good."

In Carlsbad, Calif., Hingis needed just over an hour to beat the fourth-seeded Williams for her first title since the German Open in May.

"Some people said, 'Is she ever going to come back?' " Hingis said. "This is a good opportunity for me to show here I am again."

Hingis regained the No. 1 ranking she lost to Lindsay Davenport after Wimbledon, where Hingis was knocked out in the first round. Davenport will drop to No. 2 in the WTA Tour rankings released today. Williams will remain fourth, behind Steffi Graf.

Hingis has had a rough summer, losing a three-set final to Graf at the French Open, where her tantrums drew boos from fans. Then came her shocking early exit at Wimbledon, followed by a month off to work on her game.

That's when the critics descended, speculating about her future.

"I didn't really listen," she said. "I just tried to get myself together and really think about what I want. I figured out pretty soon that I just want to play good tennis."

Williams, who beat Davenport, 6-4, 7-5, in the semifinals, committed 32 unforced errors and won just 11 points in the second set. . . .

Thomas Johansson overcame a groin injury to win the du Maurier Open in Montreal with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 upset over third-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.

Johansson, the 11th seed, became the first player in eight years to win the du Maurier in his first appearance at the event, also known as the Canadian Open. Andrei Chesnokov of Russia did it in 1991. The Swede earned his third career ATP Tour victory and first this year.

Track and Field

Bailey Is Coming Back

Donovan Bailey was a long way from regaining his world record, but he did clock his fastest time of his comeback at the Cologne Grand Prix.

Bailey ran 10.30 seconds, good enough for third in the 100 meters, and his best showing since a career-threatening Achilles' tendon injury.

"I'm slowly coming back," said Bailey, the 1996 Olympic champion.

It followed a string of last-place finishes, including Saturday's prestige meet at London's Crystal Palace won by Maurice Greene. Bailey ran a 10.36 there, another step back since returning from his injury in a pickup basketball game in Germany on June 13.

Greene has since stripped him of the title "world's fastest human," recording a world record 9.79 in Athens.

Bailey faded in the stretch yesterday as Obadele Thompson of Barbados captured the event in 10.08 on a balmy day.


Krayzelburg Sets Record

Lenny Krayzelburg broke his U.S. record in the 200-meter backstroke Saturday in the second day of competition of the national championships in Minneapolis.

Krayzelburg was on pace to snap the world mark, held by Spain's Martin Zubero (1 minute 56.57 seconds), but the 23-year-old resident of Studio City, Calif., finished in 1:56.68 to win his ninth national title.

About 1,400 swimmers are competing in the five-day meet, which should produce 10 additional qualifiers for the U.S. team at the Pan Pacific Games Aug. 22-28 in Sydney.


U.S. Defeats Norway

The U.S. women's under-21 national team defeated Norway, 2-1, in the Nordic Cup final when Lauren Orlandos scored in overtime. The annual eight-team tournament in Iceland is the world's most prestigious event for women's youth national teams.

The United States fell behind for the first time in its four matches, 1-0 in the 75th minute, but tied it 10 minutes later when Jen Streiffer headed home a poor Norwegian clearing pass. Orlandos poked Michelle French's cross out of a crowd of players in front of the goal for the game-winner six minutes into overtime.


Briggs Looking Ahead

Shannon Briggs's big plans for a fight with Mike Tyson remained in place, but only barely after the heavyweight fought a 10-round draw with Francois Botha.

Botha, a 3-to-1 underdog, unleashed a blistering 10th-round assault Saturday night that left Briggs on the verge of going down in Atlantic City. All three judges awarded Botha a 10-8 round, enabling him to obtain a 94-94 score on two judges' cards; the third card had it 95-92 in Botha's favor. The result was a draw by the majority decision.

Botha, who landed numerous unanswered rights to the head in the final round, was unhappy with the decision.

"I thought I won the fight," said the 30-year-old South Africa native. "But when it came to New Jersey, I figured I had to knock him out. The power that his manager has with the New Jersey [Boxing] Commission made it obvious to me I wasn't going to win a decision."

Briggs's manager, Marc Roberts, said negotiations for a Briggs-Tyson bout, possibly for Dec. 11, are underway.

Horse Racing

Ecton Park Just Dandy

Ecton Park raced to a 5 1/2-length victory in the 36th running of the $300,000, Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

Lemon Drop Kid, winner of the Belmont Stakes, was a well-beaten runner-up in the seven-horse field. It was another two lengths to Badger Gold. The order of finish was completed by Best of Luck, Vicar, Vision and Verse and Key to Success.

Ecton Park raced in the first group through the first seven furlongs, established a clear advantage once into the stretch and went the rest of the way unthreatened.

The win was the third in eight starts this year for Ecton Park, who covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49:2 over the sloppy track to earn $180,000 for Mark H. Stanley.

Ecton Park was a late addition to the Jim Dandy cast. Earlier in the week, trainer Elliott Walden indicated that the colt would run in Monmouth's $1 million Haskell Handicap instead. When it was learned that Stephen Got Even would not run in the Jim Dandy, Ecton Park was kept at Saratoga.

"The purse is a lot less," Walden said, "but that can be recouped very easily if we can be a Grade II winner at Saratoga."