Top seed rips Wimbledon champ in straight sets

Updated: March 19, 2005, 2:24 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Lindsay Davenport accomplished something no one else has against Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova -- shut her out.

Davenport beat the 17-year-old Russian 6-0, 6-0 in Friday's semifinals of the Pacific Life Open. The match lasted just 49 minutes.

Kim Clijsters, the 2003 champion coming back from a wrist injury sustained at last year's tournament, faces Davenport in Saturday's final.

Former No. 1 Clijsters defeated Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-2 in their semifinal.

As Sharapova failed to win a single game for the first time as a pro, she spent much of the match spraying groundstrokes outside the lines -- at times by several feet -- or hitting the ball into the net.

The loss was only her second in 19 matches this year.

The top-ranked Davenport, peppering the lines with her powerful groundstrokes, seemed almost disbelieving at the way the match was going.

"It was kind of a weird sensation, an odd position to be in, to win a match against such a good player and not have lost a game," Davenport said.

"I felt like I played well and handled the conditions really well. She didn't play well. Not really much to say."

By the end of the brief match, No. 3 Sharapova had made 25 unforced errors, an average of more than two a game. She won only 23 points, and managed just two winners each with her forehand and backhand.

Sharapova said the gusting wind was a factor, but she did not use that as an excuse.

"There are days when I go out on the court and I feel like I can't miss a ball," said Sharapova, who made her pro debut in 2001.

"Today was just one of those days when you're playing terrible and she's just hitting every single ball as hard as she can, on the line."

Asked if she recalled being blanked in a set before, Sharapova said, "I probably did when I was younger, when the girls were seven, eight years older than me. Those are the only people I played with, because that's how I got competition."

Davenport, who had beaten Nathalie Dechy in straight sets on Thursday afternoon, won the tournament in 1997 and 2000.

She played for the title three other times, losing to Martina Hingis in 1998, to Clijsters in 2003 and to Justine Henin-Hardenne last year.

Clijsters, who had surgery on her left wrist and missed most of last year, has fallen to No. 133 and is unseeded in the tournament she won two years earlier.

"This is probably the happiest I've been to be in the final," said Clijsters, who reached the world No. 1 in 2003. "I think in 2003, I was enjoying all that but you only realize how much it means if you haven't had it for a while.

"If you've been off for so long, they tell you it might be tough to get back and you might not be able to compete again. This definitely means a lot more. It sort of says, 'See, I can do it.' "

Even though Clijsters has seen limited action, Davenport said she knows it will be a tough match because she is on the short side of a 6-8 career record, including 0-4 in finals, against the Belgian. Also, Clijsters has taken all five decision in Davenport's home state.

"She's always been a tough opponent for me to play and I think it's great that she's come back so successfully so soon after having a serious injury all last year," Davenport said. "She's tough, she probably moves the best the best of any aggressive player we have. She gets a lot of balls back and always makes me play two or three extra shots. I'm going to be really ready for that to happen."

Information from The Associated Press, Reuters and SportsTicker was used in this report.

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