Mauresmo ends Hingis challenge at German Open
BERLIN, May 13 (Reuters) World number one Amelie Mauresmo ended the hopes of a resurgent Martina Hingis at the German Open today, winning the delayed deciding set of their quarter-final for a 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory.
Fading light late yesterday had forced the pair to abandon their gripping contest on the clay at the Steffi Graf stadium with the wily Swiss five-times grand slam winner and the powerful Frenchwoman locked at one set all.
Hingis made the stronger start today, breaking the Australian Open champion in the first and third games for a 3-0 lead as Mauresmo had trouble finding her range.
The Swiss looked well placed at 4-2 but Mauresmo, the winner here in 2001 and 2004, broke back twice and sealed victory on her first match point to clinch a berth in the semi-finals.
''I think I was a bit asleep in the first three games, there were a lot of mistakes and my legs weren't working too well,'' Mauresmo said.
''Then I started to wake up and got back into the match and was playing with much more intensity and consistency.'' Mauresmo will face French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne in the second semi-final later today.
The winner of that match plays in-form number two seed Nadia Petrova in tomorrow's final. The Russian world number four thrashed unseeded Chinese Li Na 6-1 6-0 today.
Third seed Henin-Hardenne beat Petrova in the 2005 final here for her third Berlin title and has a 23-1 win-loss record at the 1.34-million dollar tournament.
THREE YEARS Hingis, who won in Berlin in 1999, returned to the professional tennis circuit earlier this year after injury and burnout forced her out of the game for three years.
She has since climbed the world rankings to 23 with a string of impressive performances, including reaching the final in Tokyo and the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, where she was champion in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Hingis said her performance against Mauresmo was the best she had produced since her return to tennis.
''Today when I started off I really felt like the game plan was there,'' she said. ''But in situations where I should have been more aggressive I was just more tentative.
''I wouldn't say I got totally nervous but when you have the chance to finish you have to do it. I was able to yesterday but not today.'' Hingis plays in Rome next week, her last tournament before the French Open at the end of the month. It remains the only grand slam to elude her.
Asked whether she considered herself one of the favourites for Roland Garros, Hingis said: ''Not the favourite. A good horse running in the draw.
''If I play like yesterday and the beginning stages today then it can definitely take me far. It's just you have to have the mentality to keep going and the discipline. You just have to keep your head up and keep going for it.'' REUTERS DH BD1943