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Sharapova jumps to No. 1 in WTA rankings
(AP)
Updated: 2005-08-23 09:07

Sharapova awoke Monday to a phone call from her father saying, "Good morning, champion." The Russian teen had taken over the WTA Tour's No. 1 ranking from Lindsay Davenport, who had held the top spot since October.

Russia's Maria Sharapova announces at a news conference that she is withdrawing from the JP Morgan Chase Open WTA tournament due to a right pectoral muscle strain, in Carson, California, August 12, 2005. [Reuters]
"This is something I've dreamed of all my life," Sharapova said. "It's just an amazing fact to be No. 1 in world. Topping it off, I am the first Russian. I'm so excited that I could achieve it."

Sharapova is the 15th player and the first Russian to be No. 1 since the tour began its computer rankings in 1975. At 18, she's also the fifth youngest to hold the top spot, following Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Tracy Austin and Steffi Graf.

The No. 1 ranking means she'll likely be the top seed in the U.S. Open, which begins next Monday. The draw is Wednesday.

"It's a good feeling to have going on the court knowing you've achieved this," she said.

Sharapova knew 10 days ago that she'd jump a spot to No. 1 when this week's rankings were released. She could have overtaken Davenport with a victory at the JPMorgan Chase Open, but had to withdraw before the quarterfinals because of a strained chest muscle.

She skipped last weekend's Rogers Cup in Toronto because of the same injury. But Davenport didn't play the Rogers Cup, either, because of a lower back injury, and she didn't have enough points to stay ahead of Sharapova this week.

Davenport dropped a spot to No. 2. The Californian has been No. 1 for 82 weeks although not consecutively during her career.

"The fact you are No. 1, it just puts a smile on your face," said Sharapova, who got congratulatory text messages from friends all over the world along with seven bouquets of flowers.

"It's an amazing achievement. That's all I really can say."

Sharapova has made a stunning rise, climbing from outside the top 100 to No. 1 in a little over two years. She won Wimbledon at 17 in 2004, and has won six titles in the last 12 months. She also won the season-ending title at the Tour Championships last year.

She is 43-7 this year, and has reached at least the semifinals in eight of her last 11 WTA Tour events.

Though Sharapova hasn't played since withdrawing from the JPMorgan Chase, she said she's going into the U.S. Open in good shape. She spent her unexpected time off in Los Angeles, doing physical therapy and practicing.

The injury isn't from overuse, either. Sharapova recently discovered that she'd grown another inch she's now 6-foot-2 since March, and the rest of her body is catching up.

"I always say I think things happen for a reason," she said. "The injury gave me some good time to work on my strength and physical form, which is good."

Sharapova is one of four Russians in the top 10. France's Amelie Mauresmo, a semifinalist loser in Toronto, remained No. 3 and Belgium's Kim Clijsters jumped four spots to No. 4 after winning the Rogers Cup.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is No. 5, followed by Elena Dementieva, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Serena Williams, Nadia Petrova and Venus Williams.



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