Former champion Mauresmo overcomes shaky start to reach quarters

PARIS: French third seed Amelie Mauresmo overcame a shaky start to power past Japan’s Ai Sugiyama in straight sets and into the quarter-finals of the US$585,000 Paris Indoor Open here yesterday. 

Mauresmo, winner here in 2001, and making her comeback after a four-month knee injury layoff had looked rusty in the opening games falling 4-0 behind in just 17 minutes. 

But the 23-year-old Frenchwoman was determined not to be upstaged at her favourite tournament by world 26 Sugiyama and dug deep to hold her serve and break back for 4-2. 

Mauresmo then moved in for the kill as Sugiyama threw away four set points at 5-4 and double faulted to allow her opponent level 5-5 and take the first set in 62 minutes. 

The second set was all one-way traffic as Mauresmo grew in confidence building a 4-0 lead and allowed her opponent just two games to complete a 7-5, 6-2 win which extended her unbeaten record against the 27-year-old from Kanagawa to four matches. 

“It was hard work in the beginning, but wonderful in the end,” said Mauresmo. 

Mauresmo goes on to meet Spaniard Magui Serna for a place in her fourth semi-finals at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium. 

It was a different story for compatriot Stephanie Foretz who was earlier crushed 6-0, 6-4 by Greek eighth seed Eleni Daniilidou, who next meets either fourth seed Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia or Frenchwoman Emilie Loit. 

It is the best performance here for 20-year-old Daniilidou who has climbed the rankings to a current career-high 18th after claiming two WTA titles in the past year including Auckland last month. 

“I’m happy to have won through in two sets because I know she can play better,” said Daniilidou. 

Meanwhile, world number one and top seed Serena Williams will meet Janette Husarova in the quarter-finals after the Slovak beat Slovenia’s Tina Pisnik 6-4, 6-3 in 69 minutes. 

HYDERABAD (India): Fourth seed Mary Pierce of France and eighth-seeded Silvija Talaja of Croatia were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the WTA Indian Open here yesterday. 

An off-colour Pierce was hurled out by determined Italian Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 while Talaja was defeated by hard-hitting Japanese player Akiko Morigami 6-4, 6-3. 

Pierce, a two-time Grand Slam winner, struggled to cover the court as Pennetta held the whiphand. 

Pennetta, ranked 81st in the world, later said it was evident to her early on that her favoured opponent was not at her best. “I could make out that she was struggling so I used a lot of cross court shots and that helped me pick up crucial points,” she said. 

In other matches, Thai second seed Tamarine Tanasugarn ousted reigning US Open junior champion Maria Kirilenko of Russia 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 while fifth-seeded Iroda Tulyaganova beat Israeli Tzipora Obziler 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. – Agencies 

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