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Henin and Na reach German Open semi-finals

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, May 12 (Reuters) French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne battled into the German Open semi-finals with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Russian sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova today.

The surprise victory of the day came from unseeded Chinese Li Na who downed Switzerland's Patty Schnyder 2-6 7-6 7-6 after saving three match points in the second set. World number seven Henin-Hardenne, defending her Berlin title, saw off a stiff challenge from the 2004 U.S. Open champion under blue skies at the Steffi Graf Stadium.

The Belgian's probing groundstrokes and booming backhand were too much for Kuznetsova who fought tenaciously before succumbing 7-2 in the second set tie-break.

Fourth seed Schnyder conceded the second set 7-3 in a tiebreak to Na who was struggling with a thigh injury and a foot problem.

In the third set, Schnyder blew an early 5-2 lead to hand victory to the 24-year-old Na after a tie break in which the Swiss won only one point.

Na said she had surprised herself. ''Compared with the last two matches, I had a much calmer and more positive attitude,'' she said.

''I will just try my best tomorrow.'' Na will face second seed Nadia Petrova in the semi-finals. The Russian continued her winning streak on clay by beating compatriot Dinara Safina 3-6 6-4 6-3.

Last year's runner-up Petrova, currently ranked fourth in the world after two tournaments wins, said she was surprised how difficult the match had been.

''Everything seemed to work in her favour, she hit the lines and really pushed me back but no one can keep on playing tennis like that for long,'' the 23-year-old Muscovite said.

''You don't like to lose to anyone, but definitely even less against a fellow Russian.''.

The final match of the day is the eagerly awaited clash between world number one Amelie Mauresmo and unseeded Swiss Martina Hingis.

Former world number one Hingis won the German Open in 1999 while France's Mauresmo won the tournament in 2001 and 2004.

REUTERS CH PM2347

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