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By ERICA BULMAN
Associated Press Writer


ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- Jennifer Capriati is out to justify her world No. 1 ranking against skeptic Lindsay Davenport.

Capriati, playing in her first tournament since replacing Martina Hingis at No. 1, will face Davenport in an all-American semifinal in the Swisscom Challenge on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Davenport, a former world No. 1, hinted that U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams was the true top player in the world.

``Jennifer is No. 1 on the computer, but when I play Venus, in my mind, it feels like she's the best player in the world,'' said Davenport, the top-ranked player in the world on four occasions.

Capriati moved atop the rankings after Hingis tore ligaments in her right ankle at the Porsche Grand Prix last Saturday. She has a chance to set Davenport straight and prove she is worthy of her ranking.

Capriati turned her career around completely this year, winning the Australian and French Opens, and reaching the semifinals at the other two Grand Slam tournaments.

Capriati will need to improve her play. She labored against Russian wildcard Nadia Petrova in her first match and was slow to relax against 17-year-old Swiss qualifier Marie-Gaiane Mikaelian before winning 6-4, 6-2.

Davenport and Capriati last met in February in the semifinals of a tourney in Scottsdale, Ariz. Capriati won in three sets.

``It's been awhile,'' Capriati said. ``We'll probably feel each other out a bit at first. It should be a good match.

``I'll have to try and serve well and make her (Davenport) run, make fewer errors and expect more winners. It won't be an easy time.''

Davenport, seeded third in the tournament, has much less at stake.

Already qualified for the WTA Tour's year-end championship in Munich, Germany, Davenport admitted she was tired and wary of risking injury by pushing too hard.

Davenport has looked strong in recent weeks, reaching the finals of three of her last four events. She won two, giving her five titles in 2001.

She rallied after a slow start to eliminate qualifier Daniela Hantuchova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in 86 minutes on Friday.

Davenport won the Zurich event in 1997-98, and her only defeat here came against Hingis in last year's final. She has a 13-1 record in the tournament.

The Capriati-Davenport winner will face either fourth-seeded Jelena Dokic or eighth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat.
 
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