Mauresmo dumps Hingis to set up Petrova final

Top seed Mauresmo continued her relentless march towards the top of the world rankings with a scintillating 6-2, 6-2 victory over Martina Hingis in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open on Friday.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 00:46 IST

Top seed Amelie Mauresmo continued her relentless march towards the top of the world rankings with a scintillating 6-2, 6-2 victory over Martina Hingis in the semi-finals of the WTA Qatar Open on Friday.

The Australian Open champion was tested in brief spells by the Swiss comeback queen but her overall superiority was never in doubt as she closed out the match in 63 minutes to set up a title clash with Russia's Nadia Petrova.

Petrova had earlier survived a second set scare to down Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 7-6 (7/2) and make her fifth career final of which she has only won one— in Linz last year.

Hingis, who is making a remarkable comeback after a three-year absence from the game due to a foot injury, was a clear crowd favourite having won the inaugural Qatar open in 2001, but in Mauresmo she ran into a thoroughly focused player eager to build on her first Grand Slam crown earlier this year.

Mauresmo broke Hingis in the fifth and seventh games unleashing a wide range of shots and preventing Hingis from finding her feet, although the former World No. 1 did manage to elicit loud cheers from the packed house with some deft play at the net.

The Frenchwoman maintained her grip on the match breaking Hingis in the first game of the second set but the former champion broke back in style as Mauresmo made a couple of unforced errors.

The players traded breaks again but Mauresmo broke again in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and then held her serve to go ahead 4-2 from where she never looked back.

By this time Hingis had virtually given up hope and Mauresmo stepped up her game to secure another break and then served out the match, winning the last game to love.

"There is no doubt Amelie is the best player in the tournament," said Hingis. "I am playing well and I am not too disappointed with my loss."

Mauresmo was understandably pleased with her show. "I know what Martina is capable of so I had to be really at my best," said Mauresmo who will displace Belgian Kim Clijsters as the world World No. 1 on Monday if she beats Petrova in Saturday's final.

Earlier, Petrova, the second seed in Doha, complicated things for herself after taking the first set at a canter and finally had to rely on her strong serve in the second set tie-break to clinch the match against Sugiyama.

The Russian had three breaks to Sugiyama's one in the first set in which the Japanese veteran failed to win a single service game and Petrova's ascendancy continued in the second as she stormed to 4-0 lead.

But the 30-year-old Sugiyama, who has built a pretty decent career despite never being in the top bracket, finally held serve in the fifth game which saw the scenery change dramatically.

Aided by Petrova's sudden loss of concentration and some erratic play, Sugiyama broke the Russian in the sixth game and then won the next three to take a 5-4 lead to mount a remarkable fightback.

The players then both held serve as the match went to the tiebreak in which Petrova, with her strong serve, proved the better player as Sugiyama made crucial errors on her serves.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 00:46 IST