Sun, May 11, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Capriati, Clijsters meet in semifinals


Amelie Mauresmo of France returns a ball to Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan during their quarterfinal match at German Open WTA Tennis tournament in Berlin on Friday. Mauresmo won 7-6, 6-4.


Jennifer Capriati and Kim Clijsters have a chance to repeat their clay-court magic from the 2001 French Open final after both players notched straight-set victories Friday to set up a semifinal showdown at the German Open.

Capriati, seeded fourth, struggled in the second set but knocked off Elena Likhovtseva of Russia 6-3, 6-3 in damp and dark conditions, which the American called "dreary."

The top-seeded Clijsters won the first seven games of her quarterfinal against No. 7 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and completed a 6-0, 6-3 victory in 54 minutes.

Defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne also booked a spot in the semifinals for the third straight year by defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-4, 7-5 in 94 minutes.

Zvonareva, 18, won the first two games of the match but the second-seeded Belgian's groundstrokes proved too powerful as the 2001 French Open semifinalist pulled to a 5-1 lead in the second set. Zvonareva fought back to even 5-5 before Henin-Hardenne, No. 4 in the world, broke the teenager's service and clinched the match with an overhead smash.

Henin-Hardenne's semifinal opponent will be No. 5 in the world Amelie Mauresmo, who reached her third German Open final in four appearances with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan.

Mauresmo, coming off a victory in Warsaw last week, won in Berlin in 2001 and is seeded fifth this year. She was down 6-5 in the first set before winning the tiebreaker and then outlasting Tulyanova, who is ranked No. 41.

Capriati was quick to win the first set and streaked to a 4-1 lead before Likhovtseva pulled within 4-3. The Russian had four break points to even the second set in the eighth game, but Capriati saved them all and Likhovtseva netted a backhand to surrender after 72 minutes.

Italian open

Before a boisterous crowd, Roger Federer fought off Filippo Volandri's bid to become the first Italian semifinalist in Rome in 25 years.

Federer's 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 victory Friday earned him a showdown against tournament favorite Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semifinals of the US2.75 Italian Open, a key clay-court tuneup for the French Open later this month.

The 100th-ranked Volandri -- a wild-card entry -- was attempting to become the first Italian player to reach the semifinals at Foro Italico since Adriano Panatta finished runner-up in 1978. Panatta's 1976 victory was the last time an Italian won this event.

"I usually love the Italians because they have basically no favorite," Federer said.

"But when you play against an Italian they can be a little unfair. It's fine to support their player but not go against their opponent. I hope the crowd will be a little bit more behind me in the next match."

In the next match on center court, Ferrero cruised past Australian Open finalist Rainer Schuettler of Germany, 6-4, 6-4.

The second-seeded Spaniard did not appear tired from a three-set win against Argentine Gaston Gaudio on Thursday night and improved to 21-1 on clay this season.

Federer said he was looking forward to playing Ferrero.

Earlier, Yevgeny Kafelnikov defeated big-serving Dutchman Martin Verkerk to reach the semifinals in the other half of the draw.

Attempting to win his first tournament since rectifying a circulation problem in his leg, Kafelnikov employed a defensive game plan that forced Verkerk into beating himself.

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