MELBOURNE, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Top seed Capriati saved four championship points Saturday as she rallied from a one-set, 0-4 hole to win her second straight Australian Open title with a 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 triumph over third seed Martina Hingis.
Capriati became the first woman to save four match points to win a Grand Slam singles final. The previous mark of three was last matched by Margaret Smith at the 1962 French Open.
"I didn't know if I was really going to pull that out," Capriati said. "I just kept going -- point by point -- and things turned around."
"At a set and 4-0, you shouldn't give it away," Hingis said. "But in the last few matches, I've had this problem to close it out. When I was in Sydney, I was up 5-0 and 5-3 against Kim (Clijsters) and also against Monica (Seles in the semifinals here) in the first set at 5-1, and it got close."
Capriati, who collected the $516,000 winner's check, improved her career record in Grand Slam finals to 3-0. The American also captured the French Open crown last year.
Playing in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, Capriati saved four championship points in the second set, including one at 6-7 in the tiebreak. The Floridian knotted the contest by taking the final three points against her Swiss opponent.
"This is the most unique victory with everything that was going on out there," Capriati said. "We were taking breaks and taking water in between points, just sitting down on the chairs, and there was just so much going on. This will definitely stand out for sure."
The players were granted a 10-minute break after the second set under the event's rules regarding extreme heat. Capriati and Hingis each received treatment from tournament trainers for weather-related ailments such as cramping and heat stress.
"I just felt like my head was kind of all over the place and after I lost the second set, she had the momentum," Hingis said. "I didn't really believe in it anymore, even when I was up 2-1, I knew I probably wouldn't last, even if I really needed to. So, I just tried to walk through it. I had goose bumps all over my body, so it was just dehydration."
Last year, the 25-year-old Capriati became the lowest seed to win a major title in the Open Era, completing a comeback from a variety of personal problems.
In October, Capriati became the ninth woman since the introduction of the computer rankings to reach the No. 1 spot. She secured her place atop the WTA ranking with her performance at the first Grand Slam event of the year.
Hingis, 21, matched the Australian Open record by playing in her sixth straight final. Australia's Evonne Goolagong Cawley established the Open Era mark between 1971-76.
That still remains three short of the record for consecutive final appearances in the same Grand Slam event. Martina Navratilova reached the championship match at Wimbledon from 1982-90.
Goolagong Cawley endured three straight defeats before starting her run of three consecutive titles in 1974.
Hingis took commanding leads in the opening two sets, jumping out to a 3-0 advantage in the first and winning games four in a row to begin the second.
But Capriati displayed her fighting spirit in both sets. She broke Hingis twice and served to level the opening set. But the Swiss star took advantage of Capriati's errors to record her third break and take the set.
Hingis served for the title at 6-4, 5-3, but she once again appeared tentative at a critical juncture. The five-time Grand Slam winner recorded a double fault at 30-40, gifting the game to Capriati.
Capriati won five straight games in the third set to close the match.
A former world No. 1, Hingis still has not won a Grand Slam title since the 1999 Australian Open. But she advanced to the final at Melbourne after undergoing ankle surgery towards the end of 2001.
On Friday, Hingis and Anna Kournikova captured the women's doubles title. But playing in sweltering heat on consecutive days may have taken its toll on the world's fourth-ranked singles player.
"I think today I paid for it, that I had to play the doubles after my semifinal," Hingis said. "Maybe you can always think back and say, 'If I hadn't played that.' But I'm a competitor, so I don't just want to give up anything. I want to go all the way and today was just too much."
Later on Saturday, the ninth-seeded tandem of Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Daniel Nestor of Canada captured the men's doubles title, defeating the French duo of Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.