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Monday, October 20, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sports Briefing

Henin-Hardenne takes No. 1 spot — for a week

Justine Henin-Hardenne became the No. 1 player in women's tennis after winning the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich, Switzerland, with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Jelena Dokic.

Henin-Hardenne will advance from No. 2 and replace Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters at the top when the official rankings are released today.

Clijsters, who lost to Dokic in the semifinals, was No. 1 for 10 weeks. The WTA Tour said Clijsters will regain the top spot in a week because Henin-Hardenne has withdrawn from an upcoming tournament.

Henin-Hardenne is the 13th woman to be No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 1975.

"It was a dream of mine as a child," Henin-Hardenne said. "I've been playing tennis since I was 5."

Henin-Hardenne, the champion of the French Open and U.S. Open, won her eighth title of the year. She had a chance to become No. 1 a week ago in Filderstadt, Germany, but lost the final to Clijsters.

"After match point today, I thought, 'mission accomplished,' " she said.

Henin-Hardenne, citing fatigue, withdrew from this week's Generali Open in Austria and will lose computer-ranking points after winning that title last year. Clijsters is to play in the Seat Open in Luxembourg.

Henin-Hardenne said her next goal is the season-ending Tour Championships from Nov. 5-10 in Los Angeles.

Juan Carlos Ferrero won the Madrid Masters with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Nicolas Massu in Spain and overtook Andy Roddick for first place in the ATP Champions Race with three weeks left in the season.

Jurisprudence

A San Francisco Bay Area company at the center of a major doping investigation by U.S. athletic officials also faces a federal lawsuit involving a Medicare billing scheme in which physicians were allegedly paid kickbacks to order unnecessary medical tests.

The allegations against BALCO Laboratories Inc. of Burlingame, Calif., are contained in a civil case filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The suit seeks reimbursement for more than $1 million in Medicare funds allegedly paid for needless trace mineral tests such as those BALCO performs for elite athletes.

"These claims are untrue," BALCO president Victor Conte said in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times.

Olympics

Between doping troubles and stiffer competition from around the world, the United States might have a hard time reaching its goal of 100 medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

"We think that it will be a stretch to achieve that, but we think it is still achievable," said Jim Scherr, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Horse racing

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year in North America, could be withdrawn from Saturday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff because of concerns over her health, trainer Laura de Seroux indicated.

The 5-year-old mare has been stubborn before her last two workouts. That behavior has de Seroux worried that Azeri might have a budding physical problem that could manifest itself in an injury if she exerts herself in the Distaff at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

"I'd rather lay down on a railroad track in front of a train myself than hurt her," de Seroux said.

Cactus Ridge will miss Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile because of an injured right knee.

Phoenix Reach beat Macaw by three-quarters of a length to win the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine, near Toronto.

The 3-year-old colt, ridden by Martin Dwyer and trained by Andrew Balding, ran 1-½ miles on yielding turf in 2 minutes, 33-3/5 seconds. He paid $12.80 to win in the Grade I race.

Women's basketball

A team of WNBA players lost in the final of the inaugural Women's World Cup, losing to host SGAU Samara of Russia 72-68.

Nikki Teasley scored 21 points and Cheryl Ford added 15 for the WNBA Select team.

Lauren Jackson of the Storm scored 46 points, leading Australia's Canberra Capitals past Wooribank Hansae of South Korea 74-63 for fifth place.

Speedskating

South Korea's Seung-Jae Lee won gold in the men's 1,000- and 3,000-meter races at a World Cup short-track event in Calgary, Alberta.

Apolo Ohno of Seattle crossed the finish line first in the 1,000 but was disqualified to fourth for impeding. Ohno was fifth in the 3,000.

Snowboarding

World champion Siegfried Grabner won the slalom in his home country to take the lead in the World Cup standings.

Switzerland's Ursula Bruhin prevailed in the women's event in Soelden, Austria.

— Times news services

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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