China's Peng stops Mauresmo in quarter-finals

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BEIJING, Sep 21 (Reuters) France's Amelie Mauresmo, returning this week after two months on the sidelines, was bounced out of the China Open quarter-finals 4-6 6-4 6-2 by local Peng Shuai today.

The former world number one, who had not played since mid-July in an attempt to recapture her love for the game, looked on course for victory when she got the first break of the match to win the first set.

But backed by some fierce home support, 21-year-old Peng battled back to claim the second and broke the third seed early in the decider to take charge.

Mauresmo saved two match points when serving to save the match but Peng reached the semi-finals of the tournament for the second year in a row when the former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion found the net after two hours and 16 minutes.

''I'm disappointed,'' said the 28-year-old Mauresmo. ''I was physically going down in the second and third sets. I've only been in training for 10 days after five or six weeks off.

''It's always difficult to play against home favourites but it was not really that disturbing.'' Peng, who beat Martina Hingis in the second round, will next face Hungarian sixth seed Agnes Szavay, a 6-2 6-4 winner over Argentine lucky loser Maria Emilia Salerni.

''I'm delighted,'' said Peng. ''Many people hugged me afterwards, I don't feel lonely when I play here. I was a little nervous because I knew she was a strong player.'' Lindsay Davenport, another former world number one, won an eighth consecutive match on her comeback trail by beating Russian Elena Dementieva 7-6 6-1 to reach the semi-finals.

The American, who marked her return by winning the Bali Classic last week, stormed back from 3-1 down in the first set comfortably to win the tiebreak 7-1.

In tomorrow's semi-final Davenport plays second seed Jelena Jankovic, whom she beat last week in Bali.

World number three Jankovic played through a dizzy spell to overcome Japan's Akiko Morigami 6-3 7-5 and take her place in the last four.

''I'm happy to be in the semi-final. It doesn't matter who is on the other side of the court -- if I didn't want to win I wouldn't be playing,'' the 22-year-old said.

REUTERS PDS RK2133

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