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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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By ROY KAMMERER<br />Associated Press Writer

MUNICH, Germany (AP) -- For the first time since 1994, women's tennis has a genuine duel to see who will end the year No. 1.

Lindsay Davenport reached the semifinals of the Sanex Championships on Thursday, trouncing Yugoslav teen-ager Jelena Dokic 6-4, 6-2.

That kept Davenport's hopes alive of taking away Jennifer Capriati's top ranking before the women's tour breaks for two months.

Those two months are giving the sport the appearance of an offseason for the first time.

``We have the best of both worlds,'' said Chris DeMaria, the WTA's vice president of communications

``We have the drama of No. 1, and the players get a real break now, instead of just a few weeks.''

Davenport and Capriati have done their part to uphold the year-end race for the top, unlike the situation in 1994.

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario had a chance to catch Steffi Graf at the year-end event, then called the Chase Championships, but ended the drama with a first-round loss.

With a real offseason for the winner to enjoy the honor, the competition has caught the attention of the contenders' peers.

``The rest of the players are just very interested in how this tournament will turn out,'' Kim Clijsters said. ``The top players are just so focused.''

Clijsters, the 18-year-old Belgian who has jumped to No. 5 in the world, will be Davenport's semifinal opponent after ousting Sanchez-Vicario 7-5, 6-1.

Davenport slammed an ace to finish off Dokic in just 58 minutes, running her winning streak to 14 matches.

The American has won three titles in three weeks to melt Capriati's lead in the rankings.

Davenport will probably have to win the event to catch Capriati, who could ensure the No. 1 spot for herself and mathematically eliminate her rival by just reaching the final.

``Whatever happens, happens. I can't control the play of other players. I can just play my game,'' Davenport said. ``Jennifer is still the No. 1.''

Capriati, laboring with a throat infection, plays France's Sandrine Testud on Friday.

If Capriati wins, she will have a match against either Serena Williams or Belgium's Justine Henin, who pushed sister Venus to three sets in the Wimbledon final.

Capriati clearly wants to earn the year-end No. 1 honor after supplanting Martina Hingis for the top spot just two weeks ago.

``It would mean a whole lot to me,'' Capriati said.

Tennis used to run the whole year, but in 1986 the women's tour officials began cutting the season.

They chopped out two more weeks this year, leaving the Sanex Championship to end the season.

Sanchez-Vicario says the longer break helps players regenerate and cure injuries.

``It's much better, but it should be even longer,'' the Spaniard said. ``It should be three months.''
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