Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Likhovtseva engineers big upset

PRO TENNIS TOUR Elena Likhovtseva advanced to the semifinals to face third-seeded Anastasia Myskina and Amelie Mauresmo will meet 10th-seeded Vera Zvonareva

AP , MONTREALAP, MASON, OHIO

Amelie Mauresmo returns to Croatia Karolina Sprem during quarterfinal action at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Friday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Unseeded Elena Likhovtseva of Russia upset former world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati of the US 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup on Friday.

No. 2 seed Amelie Mauresmo of France also advanced to the semifinals by beating 12th-seeded Karolina Sprem of Croatia 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Mauresmo is vying to win for the second time in three years.

Likhovtseva will play third-seeded Anastasia Myskina of Russia, the French Open champion who downed 13th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-1. Earlier this year, Likhovtseva beat Myskina on clay at Rome but lost to her on a hardcourt in Doha, Qater.

"She's my best friend, so it will be really hard for us," Myskina said of Likhovtseva. "I just hope it's a good match."

Mauresmo will face 10th-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia, who easily defeated 16-year-old Russian-born teenager Tatiana Golovin of France 6-3, 6-1 in a match interrupted for 30 minutes by rain. Mauresmo has won all three of her previous meetings with Zvonareva.

It is the second week in a row that three Russians have reached the semifinals of a WTA tournament. Last week in San Diego, Myskina, Zvonareva and Elena Dementieva reached the semis.

The Kazakhstan-born Likhovtseva ran down nearly every ball from fifth-seeded Capriati in an intense baseline battle between two 28-year-olds on the hard-court at Uniprix Stadium.

"I knew I had to control Jennifer [from the baseline] from the beginning," said Likhovtseva, who has three wins in seven career meetings with Capriati. "But she played well, too."

Capriati recovered from a 5-3 second-set deficit to tie it 5-5, but Likhovtseva held service and then saw Capriati make unforced errors on the final two points of the match. Capriati, who won the tournament in 1991 and has been a finalist three times, is recovering from a hamstring injury and was in her first tournament since Wimbledon.

"She played her best," Capriati said. "It's like that every time and when I'm not 100 percent on my game, it just makes it more difficult. It opens the door for them to win."

Mauresmo got a scare from the hard-hitting, 19-year-old Sprem, who controlled the first set with a blazing serve that reached up to 190kph, as well as fierce groundstrokes.

She broke Mauresmo's serve in the first game, but she struggled with her own service while Mauresmo took over with a steady baseline game. Sprem made 42 unforced errors.

"She played really well in the first set," said Mauresmo. "But when you hit the ball with the intensity that she does and put 100 per cent into every shot, you can't put every ball in, otherwise you're No. 1 in the world.

"I just waited a bit and thought: If this lasts, what can I do? But when you put intensity into every shot, it's a risky game because at the end of the match, there's a lot of unforced errors and I guess a lot of winners, too."

With the third set tied 3-3, Sprem doubled-faulted twice to hand Mauresmo a lead the world No. 3 would not relinquish.

Cincinnati Masters

AP, Mason. Ohio

The only thing missing from Andre Agassi's comeback was a little confidence. A 26-point tiebreaker gave him more than enough.

Agassi won a nerve-testing first-set tiebreaker Friday night, then closed out a 7-6 (12), 6-3 victory over fourth-seeded Carlos Moya that sent him to his first tournament semifinal in five months.

Agassi will play No. 2 Andy Roddick in the semifinals of the US$2.5 million Cincinnati Masters. Lleyton Hewitt faces unseeded Tommy Robredo in the other semi-final.

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