Kim Clijsters became the new No 1 in women's tennis last night when she outlasted Lindsay Davenport 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 to win the J P Morgan Chase Open in Los Angeles for her sixth title of the year.
Clijsters takes over the top spot from the injured Serena Williams, who will trail by less than 45 points when the WTA Tour rankings come out today. Clijsters, who moves up from No 2, is the first Belgian and the 12th woman to be No 1 since the rankings began in 1975. Clijsters is also the only player to become the No 1 without first winning a Grand Slam title.
"It's something that always seems so far away, and it is always something that you work for," Clijsters said. "It makes you more motivated and makes you train harder."
The ranking is another achievement in a year that so far has been outstanding for the 20-year-old. She has reached at least the semi-finals in all of the 14 events she has played in and was only denied her first Grand Slam title when here countrywoman Justine Henin-Hardenne beat her in the French Open final.
Serena Williams, the champion at five of the past six majors, had knee surgery at the satrt of this month and is expected to be out up to two months. She had been No 1 for 57 consecutive weeks.
Clijsters rolled to a 5-0 lead against Davenport, a former world No 1 herself. But Davenport tied things up, ending the second set with a cross-court forehand winner.
But Clijsters was by far the fresher player in the third set, winning it in just 17 minutes and allowing Davenport to win just nine points.
Meanwhile, in Montreal Andy Roddick beat the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian to win the Masters Canada for his fourth title of the year. But last night's straight-sets victory 6-1, 6-3 was the American's first Tennis Masters Series championship. Roddick lost his serve just once against the Argentinian and needed less than an hour to tune up in style for the US Open, which begins later this month.
Just hoping to get to Flushing Meadow fit enough to launch any sort of challenge is Time Henman. The British No 1 was hampered by the slight strain he picked up in winning the Washington Classic, when he was defeated by Nalbandian in the second round in Montreal. However, Henman has now been given the all-clear to continue his US Open build-up with a first-round match against Argentina's Guillermo Coria, at the Cincinnati Masters Series event today.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies