Sun, Aug 27, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Davenport ready to defend title against Henin-Hardenne

AGENCIES , NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

Lindsay Davenport moved one step closer to defending her New Haven crown here on Friday by reaching the final of the US$600,000 WTA hardcourt tournament.

The US veteran will face second-seeded Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, who blew past fifth-seeded former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-3, 6-3.

The French Open champion was in top form as she crunched winners from all parts of the court, cruising through to her eighth final of the year.

"It's been pretty positive for me," Henin-Hardenne said. "A final, I will get four matches this week, so that's the best I could dream of when I came here in New Haven."

Davenport, in only her second tournament back after five months out through injury, edged out Australian Samantha Stosur 7-6, 7-6 to avenge her defeat by the Australian in Los Angeles two weeks ago.

After a rain delay of more than three hours, Davenport, who beat world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo in the previous round, let slip an early break in the first set but won the tiebreak 7-3.

She missed five match points in the second set before taking another tiebreak 9-7 when a Stosur return sailed just long.

"I'm ecstatic to be in the finals," Davenport said. "I wouldn't have guessed that a few weeks ago, a few months ago, let alone a few days ago. It's a huge accomplishment for me."

The match took more than two hours and Davenport admitted she was starting to feel the effects of her efforts this week.

"I'm feeling fatigued," she said. "I played more tennis this week than I have in six months. It's an adjustment for my body. My shoulder was getting really heavy -- it wasn't hurt -- but it just feels like everything is being used more than it has been for quite a while."

In the men's event, second seed Nikolay Davydenko moved to within one win of his third title of the year after he beat Swede Robin Soderling 7-6, 6-2.

Davydenko will play Argentine 10th seed Agustin Calleri after he advanced to the final when Belgian Xavier Malisse retired injured after losing the first set.

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