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Top seed rips Wimbledon champ in straight sets

3/19/2005

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.