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Davenport improves chances of world number one spot

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FILDERSTADT, Germany, Oct 8 (AFP) - Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport improved her outside chances of becoming year-end world number one for the second successive year by reaching the final of the 650,000-dollar WTA tournament.

Davenport also kept alive her hopes of defending the title as she overcame the unseeded but steadily rising Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday after a well-contested first set.

Davenport spent all but five weeks of the year as world number one before slipping behind Maria Sharapova recently, but the surprise defeat on Friday of Kim Clijsters, who is the favourite to finish the year at the top, has boosted the Californian's chances.

She started the match fast, breaking Hantuchova's serve in the first game, working hard to contain Hantuchova's attacks in the two points from deuce and being rewarded with errors from the Slovakian.

But most of the time Davenport prospered by imposing her heavy serve and forehand on the rallies, and by taking and keeping the initiative.

She was twice within a point of a second break in Hantuchova's next service game, but Hantuchova battled hard to hang on and after that she improved.

Three much more comfortable holds of serve did much for the unseeded player's confidence and when Davenport served for the set at 5-4, Hantuchova twice reached break back points.

Davenport saved both with the help of fine first serves and this was the weapon which made it clear Hantuchova would have to do something very special to win.

"I did serve well and that made the difference," said Davenport. "That's what I need on this (quick) court.

"I always like coming back here because it's very friendly. It's a really good relaxed event and that helps me."

From halfway through the second set, when Davenport broke again for 3-2, the outcome was increasingly predictable, even though Hantuchova showed signs of her improved form with some well-constructed rallies.

By the time Hantuchova served to try to save the match at 3-5, Davenport's momentum was both relaxed and accelerating, bringing her third break of serve and a quick end to the match.

Davenport said:"I am not going to to enter new tournaments in my schedule to try to become nunber one.

"I am sure that if I win every tournament for the rest of the year there is a chance of being number one again. But it's not really in my mind at this point."



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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