Martinez Crashes Semifinal Party

Times Staff Writer

The semifinals of the women's Pacific Life tennis tournament were determined Thursday at the Indian Wells Garden, and it turned out to be one of those which-name-doesn't-fit-here lineups.

Kim Clijsters of Belgium is the No. 1-seeded player, and she performed to expectations with a 6-2, 6-3 rout of Chanda Rubin. The other semifinal was settled Wednesday. Lindsay Davenport is set to face Jennifer Capriati in the featured 8:30 match tonight. Capriati is seeded second, Davenport fourth, so that matchup was as expected as it is anticipated.

That left the spot opposite Clijsters, and the draw opened up for two veterans: Conchita Martinez of Spain and San Diego, who will be 31 in April and is making her 11th appearance in this tournament, and Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, who will be 32 in October and is making her 13th appearance. Both have been in the final here but Coetzer's 1994 loss to Steffi Graf is the most recent for either.

It was Martinez who won out in this dual of wily veterans Thursday night, 6-2, 6-1, and she will get a chance to extend one her best weeks in tennis in a while when she faces Clijsters on the Stadium Court at noon today.

Martinez, while somewhat in the twilight of her career, has made more than $10 million playing tennis and won the Wimbledon title in 1994. She got as high as No. 2 in the world twice, in 1995 and '96, and has the ability to torture opponents with a game that features slices and chops and moon balls. She changes tempo more often than a jazz band.

She converted her second match point in fitting style, slicing a backhand that ticked the net cord and dribbled over. Coetzer watched helplessly.

Clijsters said she had not played in a manner that would promote confidence earlier in the tournament and was happy that she finally got clicking on all cylinders against Rubin, a dangerous opponent who was seeded eighth.

"I think when the opponents get better, I'm the type of player, I play better myself," Clijsters said.

"Today, that was definitely the case."


Today's Women's Semifinals

On Stadium Court at the Pacific Life Open, Indian Wells Tennis Garden:


No. 1 Kim Clijsters, Belgium

vs. No. 26 Conchita Martinez, Spain

Head to head: 1-1.

Last meeting: Clijsters defeated Martinez in the quarterfinals at Stuttgart, Germany, in 2001, 7-5, 7-5.

8:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 4 Lindsay Davenport vs.

No. 2 Jennifer Capriati

Head to head: Davenport leads series, 7-2.

Last meeting: Davenport defeated Capriati in the semifinals at Zurich, Switzerland, in 2001, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

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