SPORT

Clijsters takes on Davenport

CARSON (California) AUG. 10. Kim Clijsters is a win away from being No. 1 in the world. Clijsters rallied from deficits in both sets to beat No. 16 Francesca Schiavone of Italy 7-5, 6-4 at the JPMorgan Chase Open tennis tournament on Saturday.

If she beats Lindsay Davenport in the tournament final, she will replace the injured Serena Williams at No. 1, taking over the top spot for the first time in her career.

Davenport broke Ai Sugiyama's serve six times in a 6-2, 6-1 victory on Saturday to reach the final for the seventh time in eight years.

Clijsters, the top-seeded player, defeated Davenport 6-3, 6-3 last week in the Acura Classic semifinals at Carlsbad, California, to tie their rivalry at six wins apiece. The Belgian is 3-0 on hard courts against Davenport in 2003.

``I would really like to have a win over someone ranked higher than me,'' said Davenport, No. 4 in the world.

Clijsters has reached the semifinals or better in all 13 of her WTA Tour events this year, her most consistent start to a season. Her five titles tie her with countrywoman Justine Henin-Hardenne for most this year.

Little separated Clijsters and Schiavone, who played against the rowdy backdrop of a Los Angeles Galaxy soccer game going on in the stadium across the plaza. Drums banged, horns blew and fans chanted and sang during the match.

Schiavone's 15 winners were just one more than Clijsters, who had 30 unforced errors to the Italian's 31.

Clijsters trailed 3-1 in the first set. She fell behind 4-2 in the second set, then held for 4-3. Schiavone missed two smashes and a net cord bounced wide as she dropped serve at 4-4. Clijsters served a love game, then won on the second match point when Schiavone netted a backhand.

Davenport won this tournament in 1996, 1998 and 2001, when it was played in Manhattan Beach.

The players could have used the cool ocean breezes the beach used to provide — Saturday's temperature reached the upper 80s and it felt like more than 100 on the stadium court.