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Mauresmo slumps to surprise defeat

INDIAN WELLS, California -- Amelie Mauresmo's bid to regain the world number one ranking took a knock when she lost 2-6 6-2 7-5 to Russian teenager Evgenia Linetskaya in the third round of the Pacific Life Open.

Linetskaya saved a match point at 4-5 down in the third set when the second seed pushed a forehand volley wide.

Mauresmo then double faulted to allow the Russian to break serve and lead 6-5 and clinched victory when she put away a forehand volley.

The 18-year-old screamed in delight after registering her first win over a top-five player. "I'm feeling happy and confident in myself," Linetskaya said.

Mauresmo had a chance to regain the top ranking from Lindsay Davenport here but is now in danger of losing her number two spot to Maria Sharapova.

"It's a big disappointment, especially having played the way I did today," Mauresmo said. "You can lose some matches, but as long as I felt that I played some good tennis and that the opponent won it, then it's OK. I don't really feel it was the case."

Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva put out France's Severine Beltrame 5-7 6-3 7-6 and 2003 champion Kim Clijsters continued to look impressive in her comeback from wrist surgery, beating Russia's Anna Chakvetadze 6-1 7-6.

In the men's tournament, top seed and defending champion Roger Federer began his campaign in the Masters Series event with a 6-3 6-3 second round triumph over American Mardy Fish.

Second seed Lleyton Hewitt beat American Robby Ginepri 6-2 7-6 while Marat Safin survived two match points before overcoming Jarkko Neimenen 4-6 6-1 7-5.

Federer has lost only one match this year, to Safin in the Australian Open semi-finals. Since then he has racked up titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.

"We'll really see after these two events, Indian Wells and Miami, how I'm really shaping up, if I'm still number one in the race," Federer said.

"But so far I have the feeling that the chances are there to repeat last year's season," he added.

Heavy winds and blowing sands distracted the players and the conditions nearly got the better of Safin, who is chasing Federer for the top spot.

"It was really tough because it's dark," Safin said. "It was also a little too windy, so it's difficult to serve. It's difficult to play from the baseline because one side is going really fast and other side, the ball doesn't go anywhere."

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