Tennis Tennis

Hard fought

Henin-Hardenne, Seles advance to Dubai final

Posted: Friday February 21, 2003 4:05 PM
Updated: Saturday February 22, 2003 2:21 AM
  Justine Henin-Hardenne Justine Henin-Hardenne beat Anca Barna, Anastasia Myskina and Jennifer Capriati en route to the Dubai final. AP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Tournament top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium was given a torrid time by American Jennifer Capriati but finally won 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in the $585,000 WTA Dubai Duty Free Open on Friday.

In a match worthy of a final, Capriati fought hard but was unable to beat the Belgian, who had a reply for every problem she posed. This match gives Henin-Hardenne a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head matches, which have all gone to three sets.

Earlier Friday, defending Dubai Open champion and tournament second seed Amelie Mauresmo of France crashed out with a right thigh injury while playing Monica Seles of the United States in the first semifinal.

Nine-time Grand Slam winner Seles went through to the final of this tournament winning the first set 6-3 when Mauresmo retired hurt at 2-2 in the second set.

Henin-Hardenne took the first set 7-5 despite having her service game broken in the second and eighth games and was clearly bothered by the strong winds that have dogged this tournament. A rejuvenated Capriati held serve right through to the ninth game at 5-4 and broke the Henin-Hardenne serve after going to deuce to take the set 6-4.

In the decider, Henin-Hardenne broke Capriati's serve in the fifth game to go 3-2 up. She held serve to shut out the fighting former No. One player to take the set 6-4 and the match.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I won," said Henin-Hardenne. "It was so windy in the first set and I did serve and volley on the important points. All my matches with Jennifer have gone to three sets and I knew that this one would too. I'm very happy, and thanks to the crowd, too, who gave such great support," said Henin-Hardenne, who added that facing Seles is always tough.

"I have to go out there and win, that's my goal," she said.

Capriati said: "Maybe I did not play as good as I did in my previous matches, it is difficult to keep the consistency and maybe the conditions," with strong swirling winds 8 mph (13 kph) and above. "But I played well and had some chances."

Mauresmo said of her withdrawal, "There is no point staying on court if you can't play. I couldn't really move the way I like to move, and I didn't want to aggravate the situation.

"But it's very disappointing, not just giving up the title. It was a good match and she (Seles) was playing good tennis. She was very aggressive and taking the ball early and returning well."

Second-seed Mauresmo was playing in her second tournament in four months after suffering a cartilage injury in her right knee. She also had to withdraw from the Antwerp tournament last week with a left abductor injury.

"It's definitely not the way you like to win a match," said Seles, who lost to Mauresmo in the 2002 Dubai Open semifinals.

"There were some great points. I think I played really well generally. I wasn't making too many unforced errors and just kept the ball in play. We were so close in that first set," Seles said.

"She's tough to play because she doesn't give you the same ball. You have to keep moving and I'm just really happy that I stayed focused out there," said Seles, who will play Henin-Hardenne in the final.

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