A couple of cool, cocky kids playing women's tennis have turned the top 10 into a bigger mess than a teenager's bedroom.
Now comes the showdown between 16-year-old Anna Kournikova and Venus Williams. They'll play Saturday in the final at the Lipton Championships.
"For sure, the youngsters are coming," said Martina Hingis, a 17-year-old who suddenly seems venerable.
Williams beat defending Lipton champion Hingis 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in Thursday's first semifinal. Then Kournikova rallied to eliminate two-time champ Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Hingis' defeat won't affect her No. 1 ranking, but it shuffles the balance of power on the WTA Tour. Hingis has now lost twice this year to the 11th-ranked Williams, who will break into the top 10 next week for the first time.
"I haven't arrived yet," Williams said. "I'm just coming. I'm on my way."
The same goes for Kournikova, who is ranked 25th and believes she would be higher if not for WTA Tour age restrictions on the number of tournaments she can play. She reached the final by beating a top-10 player four days in a row - a first on the women's tour.
In order, the young Russian eliminated No. 4 Monica Seles, No. 9 Conchita Martinez, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport and No. 8 Sanchez Vicario.
"It shows everybody that I can play," Kournikova said. "It didn't just happen one time unexpectedly. I proved to everybody that I can play good tennis a lot of matches in a row."
In the men's quarterfinals, Andre Agassi continued his resurgence by beating Jeff Tarango 6-4, 6-3. Agassi's opponent in the semifinals tonight will be Alex Corretja, who defeated qualifier Steve Campbell 6-3, 6-1.
Marcelo Rios was scheduled to play Tim Henman in the other semifinal Friday afternoon. If Rios wins the tournament, he'll take over the No. 1 ranking from Pete Sampras.
Kournikova and Williams will face each other for the first time. Both hit with power from the baseline and charge the net. The taller Williams has the stronger serve, while Kournikova is more agile.
"There are a lot of changes going on right now in women's tennis," Kournikova said. "It's going to be something different, something new."
Kournikova watched Williams overpower Hingis in a match more lopsided than the score. In the second set, Williams squandered a 3-0 lead and three match points serving at 5-3.
"I was just much too tight and much too pumped," she said. "After I lost that game, it was like, `Wow, how could I have done that?' "
Hingis survived two match points to beat Williams' sister, Serena, in the quarterfinals. But there was no escaping Venus.
"It's difficult to play the Williams family two matches in a row," Hingis said with a laugh.
The 5-foot-6 Hingis, the defending Lipton champ, conceded that she couldn't match the 5-10 Williams' power.
"She's taller than me," Hingis said. "What can I do about that? I know I can't hit the ball as hard as she can."
Williams' father, Richard, watched from the first row behind his daughter's changeover chair. He held up signs that said "I love my wife" and "We thank the ball-kids," then later clasped his hands over his head and made other gestures to Venus that looked suspiciously like coaching.
If he was signaling her to hit the ball hard, she followed orders well.
Hingis still leads the budding rivalry 4-2 and leads Williams in Grand Slam titles, 4-0. But the gap in talent is disappearing fast, with Kournikova now a factor, too.
"Before, I was the hunter," Hingis said. "Now I'm the hunted one."