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Ferrero Tightens Grip as World Number 1 Men's Tennis Player - 2003-10-19


Top-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain has tightened his grip on the men's world number one ranking with a straight sets victory over Nicolas Massu of Chile at the Madrid Tennis Masters tournament in Spain.

Ferrero was in control throughout the best-of-five set match Sunday, beating the unseeded Massu, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. The Spaniard was taken to deuce on serve only twice by Massu in the first two sets, and didn't face any break points. In the third set, Ferrero broke the Chilean three times.

The victory extended Ferrero's lead over American Andy Roddick and Switzerland's Roger Federer in the ATP entry list rankings and put him ahead of Roddick in the ATP Champions Race with just three weeks to go in the season.

The title was Ferrero's fourth in his breakout season, in which he has won the French Open, was runner-up at the U.S. Open, and will lead Spain in the Davis Cup final next month in Australia. It was his first indoor championship.

Meanwhile, Justine Henin-Hardenne of the Netherlands has overtaken compatriot Kim Clijsters as the number one women's tennis player in the world, with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Serbia and Montenegro's Jelena Dokic at the Swisscom Challenge final in Zurich.

Henin-Hardenne won the first set in just 15 minutes Sunday, conceding only four points. Dokic finally held serve in the first game of the second set, but was broken in the fifth game, and Henin-Hardenne saved three break points to win the match. On Monday Henin-Hardenne will become the 13th woman to reach the top of the WTA Tour rankings since they were introduced in 1975. But the WTA says Henin-Hardenne will hold the top ranking for only a week. She has withdrawn from the Generali Open in Austria next week, and will lose computer ranking points after winning the title last year.

Before accepting the trophy and standing next to a giant board with number-one written out in tennis balls for photographers, Henin-Hardenne said taking the top spot in women's tennis had been her dream as a child. Clijsters has been number one for 11 weeks.

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