Henin-Hardenne beats Sharapova to secure women's top ranking

Published November 12, 2006

MADRID - Justine Henin-Hardenne will finish the year as the top-ranked player in women's tennis after beating Maria Sharapova in Saturday's semifinal of the WTA Championships.

Henin-Hardenne faces defending champion Amelie Mauresmo today in the final, with $1-million going to the winner. Mauresmo advanced to the final with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over two-time winner Kim Clijsters.

Henin-Hardenne's 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Sharapova clinched her second yearend No. 1 ranking. Mauresmo finishes 34 consecutive weeks as No. 1 after the tournament.

Henin-Hardenne won the French Open and was the runnerup at the three other Grand Slam tournaments this year - the first woman since Martina Hingis in 1997 to reach all four major finals. She lost to Mauresmo at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Henin-Hardenne can clinch a tour-high sixth title of 2006 after missing nearly two months recovering from a muscle tear in her right knee.

"It's amazing. I'm very happy," Henin-Hardenne said. "I'm very happy with the way I handled the pressure. The season is not over yet. I'm No. 1, but I still want to win this tournament.

"I had a great season, and I know there are a few players who deserve it, too, but it's not easy to go to the four finals of the Grand Slams, and I played very consistently all year. So I think I deserve (No. 1)."



Yanks, Orioles talk trade for Wright

The Yankees were discussing a deal that would send Jaret Wright to the Orioles for prospects. Wright and Yankees teammate Mike Mussina filed provisionally for free agency, awaiting decisions on team options for 2007. New York had until today to exercise a $7-million option on Wright, a deal that carries a $4-million buyout. While the Yankees have until Wednesday to decide on Mussina's $17-million option, which has a $1.5-million buyout, the team and the pitcher's agent have been discussing a new two-year deal in the $20-million to $25-million range.

MORE BASEBALL: The Nationals will name Mets third base coach Manny Acta as their next manager this week, ESPNdeportes.com reported. ... Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell officially filed for free agency. ... Buddy Kerr, 84, an All-Star shortstop who in the 1940s played 68 consecutive games without an error, died Tuesday in New York after a short illness.


American rallies to win men's event

American Evan Lysacek rallied to take the men's event at the Cup of China in Nanjing. Hungarian Julia Sebestyen edged Japan's Yukari Nakano to win the women's title. Emily Hughes finished third. Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin scored a convincing win in the free dance to win the overall title.


MLS approves 'Beckham Rule'

Major League Soccer teams will be allowed to sign high-profile players such as David Beckham or Ronaldo after owners approved a change to salary-cap regulations. The "Beckham Rule" gives clubs the authority to acquire players outside the salary cap of $2-million per team.


GREYHOUNDS: Campbell Greyhound Racing's Dermatophyte upset previously undefeated Dreamy Blossom to win the Tampa Juvenile Stakes at Tampa Greyhound Track. Dermatophyte paid $25.40 to win and ran 550 yards in 30.36 seconds. Dreamy Blossom had won her first 13 career starts. Kay Shivon Sissy was third. Floyd & Porter's Brady Thomas won his third stakes of the year in Night of Stars XVIII, paying $4.20. Flying Matco was second and Kaias Sequoyah third. ... Magic City Kennel's Extruding Dream finished fifth and Phenomenal Dream was sixth in the Joseph M. Linsey Memorial American Greyhound Derby on Friday at Lincoln Park, R.I.

HORSES: Take D'Tour won the Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap, one of eight races in the Florida Million at Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens.

In other featured races, Rehoboth won the Carl G. Rose Classic, and D'artagnans'spirit took the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap.

SKIING: Marlies Schild led an Austrian sweep in the women's World Cup season opener in Levi, Finland, winning a slalom event. Nicole Hosp was second, and Kathrin Zettel took third. American Resi Stiegler was 10th.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.