Mauresmo advances as injured Serena withdraws

PARIS: Second seed Amelie Maursemo of France swept into the semi-finals of the Paris Indoor Open here on Friday as US star Serena Williams withdrew from the event through illness. 

Maursemo, the 2001 champion, defeated eighth-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) in their quarter-final match after 1hr 23min on court at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium. 

The French number one, who missed last year's event through injury, next meets Russian fourth seed Nadia Petrova who battled past unseeded Marion Bartoli of France 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. 

“I dominated the first set and had the chance to finish it early in the second but my level dropped a bit and that allowed her get back into the match,” said Mauresmo. 

“She took the chances I gave her. But it's good to have a bit of a battle before the next round. I'm more or less happy with all levels of my game,” added the French player after her sixth win in seven meetings with Maleeva. 

Mauresmo is now the tournament favourite in the absence of two-time winner Williams who withdrew from the event because of gastro-enteritis. 

She became the second big name sidelined after Russian third seed Maria Sharapova opted out before the event began with an upper respiratory illness. 

“I'm really sorry not to be able to play here, but I'm sick,” the American told the crowd. 

“I really wanted to play because it was here that I won my first title,” added Williams, who won the first of her 26 titles here in 1999, and claimed her second in 2003, both at the expense of Mauresmo.  

The US star left amid a stalking controversy after a spectator bluffed his way into her press conference just two days after he had evaded security to reach the players dressing room, sparking a police investigation. 

Speaking in French, the man in his 30s asked the world number two: “You're not annoyed with me for walking into your locker room the other day? I just came to ask you for a kiss. I didn't have it, can I have it today?” – AFP  

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