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Clijsters reaches final on 1st win vs. Hingis

Top-seeded Martina Hingis was upset Thursday in the semifinals of the Masters Series tournament, losing 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 to Kim Clijsters, a 17-year-old from Belgium rapidly working her way up the world rankings.

In the men's draw, fourth-seeded Andre Agassi outlasted Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals. Patrick Rafter also advanced, beating defending champion Alex Corretja 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Clijsters, who has won three times on the women's tour since turning pro in 1999, consistently drove low, hard groundstrokes down the lines against Hingis.

She hit 21 winners _ 13 on forehands _ to Hingis' 10.

Saturday's championship match pits Clijsters against the winner of the semifinal between Serena and Venus Williams.

Hingis' loss ended her string of five straight finals, a span in which she won three times.

Clijsters was 47th in the world rankings in 1999 and has jumped to No. 19. Making the Indian Wells final will bump her up the ladder.

"That's one of the top 10 players I see in the future, for sure," Hingis said. "She basically didn't really have a weakness today."

Clijsters was thrilled to beat Hingis for the first time in four matches.

"This is probably my greatest tournament, my greatest victory," she said, adding that she was careful not to get too giddy.

"I have to keep my feet on the ground. I'm looking forward to my next match. I know it's going to be very, very hard," she said.

GRAF DEFRAUDED: Steffi Graf has confirmed that she lost $600,000 in a mob-infiltrated stock fraud that bilked investors of $50-million.

In an interview with Germany's financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Graf said she invested the money in 1996.

"I was mostly angry with myself, because I had been so naive," she told the newspaper. Graf said she had been promised "enormous profits."

Prosecutors said NFL linebacker Bryan Cox also was bilked in the scheme.

Handelsblatt said Graf gave the money to New York broker Harold Weinstein. Prosecutor Kenneth Breen said last week Weinstein once worked at Stratton Oakmont, a mob-run operation shut down in the late 1990s.

Graf told Handelsblatt she "relied mainly on recommendations from acquaintances, who told me about this New York broker."

"They told me they'd made incredible winnings with him and that I should listen to his offers," said Graf, who retired in 1999 after winning 22 Grand Slam titles and earning nearly $22-million.

"I never met the man and I only knew him on the phone," she said.

"At the beginning, the stock, a really small value, went up incredibly. After two or three months, however, I noticed that something wasn't right," she said.

Graf said she tried to sell the stock but quickly discovered that the office had closed and that "no money was there anymore."

Court papers said that between 1994 and 1998, brokers used high-pressure sales tactics to sell penny stocks at inflated prices. The defendants profited by selling off their own "house shares" before prices crashed, and tens of millions of dollars were laundered through domestic and foreign bank accounts.

Two defendants have been identified as associates in the Gambino organized crime family.

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