Mauresmo stands in way of American-Russian charge

PTI | ByDave James (AFP), Paris
May 31, 2004 08:28 PM IST

The quarters line-up features three Americans and three Russians with only Amelie Mauresmo and Paolo Suarez breaking the monopoly.

Brittle talent Amelie Mauresmo on Tuesday hopes to take another step towards a first French Open title by derailing an American and Russian supercharge through Roland Garros.

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The quarter-final line-up features three Americans and three Russians with only third-seed Frenchwoman Mauresmo and unheralded Paolo Suarez, the 14th seeded Argentinian, breaking the monopoly.

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The 24-year-old Mauresmo made the quarter-finals here last year, her best performance, but was ruthlessly brushed aside by Serena Williams.

She could meet the 2002 champion in Sunday's final but her first task is to get past ninth seeded Russian Elena Dementieva who put out fifth seed Lindsay Davenport in the fourth round.

After that, a semi-final beckons against either Suarez or Russian teenager Maria Sharapova.

In the other half of the draw, Venus Williams, seeded four, faces Russian sixth Anastasia Myskina while Serena, seeded two, meets old rival Jennifer Capriati, the seventh seed, and champion in 2001.

"I was a little bit surprised about Dementieva's score against Davenport," said Mauresmo.

"She is a player I know quite well but it's up to me to impose my strong points, my game, and not let her take the initiative."

Mauresmo starts as clear favourite having dominated her previous meetings with Dementieva especially on clay.

Capriati goes into her quarter-final with Serena nursing a sorry 5-9 career record but crucially she has the psychological advantage of having broken a three-year wait for a victory over her fellow American with a straight sets triumph on the Rome clay just three weeks ago.

However, Serena is approaching her best form again after only recently returning to the tour after an eight month knee injury lay-off.

"I feel that if I can keep the balls in play, I should have the edge because she is still not used to playing on clay and maybe she'll come up with the error first," said Capriati.

Serena is looking forward to renewing her rivalry with Capriati especially since that defeat in Rome snapped an eight-match winning run over her compatriot.

"We have a great rivalry," said the second seed. "It always seems we go three sets. It's always intense and the score is really close. I'll be up for it."

A Serena win and a Venus victory against Myskina will pit both sisters against each other in the last four.

Venus, who was a fourth round loser here last year, has won both her meetings with the Russian and that record is unlikely to change on Tuesday especially with the American having recovered from the ankle injury that led to her defaulting the Berlin final against Mauresmo.

"Losing in the fourth round last year hasn't presented a mental hurdle for me," said Williams.

"I felt very confident going into the fourth round because I know I have been playing a lot better than last year."

Sharapova, just 17 and enjoying her best Grand Slam run, has yet to drop a set in the tournament and has come through a section of the draw stripped of defending champion and top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne.

"Nothing is out of reach for me. Every tournament I come into I want to win. I have been feeling very good and confident," she said.

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