Tennis: Hingis knocked off No 1 perch

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LINDSAY DAVENPORT finally claimed the world No 1 ranking in women's tennis yesterday when Martina Hingis was beaten at the Porsche Grand Prix.

Hingis, who needed to win to hold off the charging American in the computer rankings, lost a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final struggle to Belgium's rising star, Dominique Van Roost. Davenport, the US Open champion, will officially end the Swiss teenager's 80-week reign at the top in the new rankings to be released Monday.

Hingis, slowed by a taped ankle from a jogging injury suffered earlier in the week, battled back several times before Van Roost blasted a forehand down the line to end the two hour, 18 minute battle.

"I had a lot of confidence out there. When you have nothing to lose and the other player has a lot to lose it's easier for you," Van Roost said. The Belgian, ranked 12th in the world, consistently caught Hingis flat- footed with her disguised strokes.

Although Davenport did not have to raise a racket to take away Hingis' top ranking, the American would have claimed the No 1 spot by beating France's Nathalie Tauziat in her quarter-final match to be played later in the day - no matter whether Hingis had won.

The Swiss teenager trailed 1-4 in the final set, pulling even at 4-4 and then fought off two match points with hard serves before falling to Van Roost, who had earlier overwhelmed Venus Williams in straight sets. "I think I played the best match of my life," said Van Roost who will break into the top 10 in next week's ranking.

Spain's Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, the fourth seed, became the first player to reach the semi-finals after she rallied from 1-4 down in the second set to beat Lisa Raymond of the United States, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Raymond, ranked 16th, dominated the Spaniard with hard strokes and by attacking the net until her forehand errors began mounting late in the match. Sanchez-Vicario completed her comeback by closing out the match in one hour, 57 minutes when Raymond double-faulted.

Last year at this time, Hingis had a mammoth 3,095-point lead over the then No 2 Jana Novotna in the computer rankings. But after winning three of the four Grand Slam tournaments last year and reaching the final of the fourth, the French Open, Hingis has only captured the Australian Open so far this season.

Since then, she has won only three more titles while compiling a 54-10 record in singles. Once completely dominant, Hingis has been beaten three times this season by Davenport and once each by Venus Williams and Monica Seles.

Top seeds Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang continued impressive winning streaks yesterday to advance to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Open.

Ivanisevic defeated Denmark's Kenneth Carlsen 6-3, 7-6 and the Croatian will play sixth-seeded Ramon Delgado today for a place in the final. Delgado, of Paraguay, dropped a hotly contested second-set but battled back to beat his opponent, Australian Michael Tebbutt, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.

Crowd-favourite Michael Chang of the United States handily vanquished Todd Woodbridge of Australia 6-2, 6-2, and now faces fifth-seeded Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands. Haarhuis beat another Australian, Mark Woodforde, 7-6, 7-6.

Neither Ivanisevic or Chang has dropped a set in three rounds of play.