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Amerie Mauresmo
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Mauresmo pulls out of Wimbledon doubles
- Defending Wimbledon women's singles champion Amelie Maursemo has withdrawn from the doubles with partner Tatiana Golovin because of injury.
A statement from the All England Club on Wednesday said the Frenchwoman had decided to withdraw because of a "minor strain".
"She feels this is a precautionary measure and is confident it will not hinder her singles," the statement said.
Fourth seed Mauresmo, who easily won her opening match in the singles on Tuesday against American Jamea Jackson, has been struggling with a thigh injury since the French Open.
She did play at Eastbourne last week, however, reaching the final where she lost to world number one Justine Henin.

Mauresmo's title challenge spurred by SW19 effect

 

Amélie Mauresmo did her best to smile sweetly when Justine Henin's name was mentioned: "She's been unbeatable for the last four weeks. Let's hope she's not for the next couple." The Wimbledon champion and the Belgian world No1 used to be considerable friends, but that all ended at the Australian Open last year when Henin pulled out of the final with stomach problems, brought on by anti-inflammatory drugs, when 6-1, 2-0 down. She then suggested immediately afterwards that Mauresmo had not been playing particularly well. It was the French woman's first grand slam title and Henin's retirement undoubtedly robbed her of the immediate exhilaration of becoming a champion, exacerbated by her faint praise.

The ill-feeling was increased in Doha when Mauresmo's coach, Loic Courteau, suggested to Carlos Rodriguez, Henin's coach, that she might apologise. "Apologise for what?" snapped back Rodriguez. And so the frostiness has continued. After Mauresmo beat Henin in last year's Wimbledon final, the Belgian put her arms around her, but it was not a move that led to any rapprochement. The French woman has also still not forgiven Martina Hingis for the remarks she made about her sexuality after the 1999 Australian Open final.

Some might regard this as a weakness in Mauresmo's character, although it could be equally argued that such stubbornness was one of the factors that enabled her to hold her nerve twice against Henin to finally win the two majors that her talent so richly deserved. Those nerves have not suddenly subsided, and remain a perennial obstacle at Roland Garros, but her return to the All England Club yesterday brought back a surge of good memories. "I don't know if you can put it into specific words, it was just a good overall feeling. I'm really looking forward to the tournament."

Mauresmo lost to Henin in the Eastbourne final on Saturday, that win confirming the four-times French Open champion as the favourite for the one major she has yet to win. Henin's third successive win at Roland Garros was her sixth slam title, edging her ahead of Venus Williams and Hingis, and two behind Serena Williams. Mauresmo considers the Williams sisters - who have five Wimbledon titles between them - along with herself, Henin, and Maria Sharapova, as the players most likely to win the title.

Mauresmo had popped into the All England club before playing in East Sussex. "It was a little empty but all the memories came back, moments I am still enjoying." Should she win again this year she would, of course, enjoy equal prize money: "It's a great step forward, showing the example to everybody." Including the French, who quickly followed suit.

The Wimbledon champion has not had the best of times since last year's victory, and underwent an appendix operation in March. "I struggled a lot at the end of last year. It was disappointing. Then it took me some time to recover from surgery. But I found some rhythm and confidence in Eastbourne, and I'm hoping that the grass season can put me back where I should be." That said, she was in indifferent form before last year's Championships, but immediately felt good in her opening match, which she won without dropping a game against the Croatian qualifier, Ivana Abramovic. "It was a key moment for me. I was not playing a great player, but I managed to produce great tennis. Then I thought 'OK, I have the Wimbledon feeling.' It felt wonderful."

Mauresmo has a potentially awkward quarter-final against this year's beaten French Open finalist, 19-year-old Ana Ivanovic of Serbia ,who had a fit of nerves of Mauresmo proportions at Roland Garros where Henin beat her 6-1,6-2: "It was understandable for Ana but it was a great experience and she is learning all the time. She played great tennis throughout. I thought last year that Nicole Vaidisova was a little bit ahead of the new group of young players, but Ana has come on extremely strongly. She's been working very hard and she's taken the lead."

Last year Mauresmo beat Ivanovic reasonably comfortably in the fourth round. Should they meet again this time it could be altogether trickier for the champion.

Serena Williams was in the mood to rip up telephone directories for fun in the second week of this year's Australian Open: "I'm still the best player when I am playing well. It's hard for anyone to beat me, that's just a fact. I don't think anyone that has to play me goes home and shouts with joy. I'm feeling good and I'm not suffering from any injuries, and for me it's always been about feeling healthy."

She reached three successive Wimbledon finals between 2002 and 2004, defeating her older sister twice before being hit off the court by Maria Sharapova in 2004, the last time she lost to the Russian. And nothing was more savage then her 6-1, 6-1 win over Sharapova in this year's Australian Open final. In a similar vein, Venus was at her own intimidating best when she defeated Sharapova in the 2005 Wimbledon semi-finals, and then went on to win her third singles title at the All England club. This time they are due to meet in the fourth round, while Henin may play Serena in the quarter-finals. Should either or both the Williamses not reach the final, then they are clearly going to have a major influence on the outcome of the title.


RAIN FRUSTRATES MAURESMO


 

Amelie Mauresmo's second round match was delayed due to torrential rain in Paris on Thursday.

The French former world number one was one set up over Nathalie Dechy, and the players were in the middle of a second set tie-break when the heavens opened at Roland Garros.

They will resume at 4-2 to Dechy on Friday, competing for a place in the third round where the victor will face Lucie Safarova.

Matches involving seeds Svetlana Kuznetsova (3), Anna Chakvetadze (9), Anabel Medina Garrigues (24) Ai Sugiyama (21) and Martina Muller (32) were also interrupted by the rain.

In the men's draw, the inclement weather also ended an epic clash between Jonas Bjorkman and Ivo Karlovic.

The Swede raced into a two-set lead over Karlovic, before being pegged back to 2-2.

When the rain came Bjorkman was a break up in the final set, but again the players will have to return to complete the match on Friday.

 
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MAURESMO MAKING PROGRESS

 

The Frenchwoman was made to work hard for her 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 victory over fellow compatriot Emilie Loit.

Mauresmo looked to cruising towards an early lead after racing ahead 4-2 in the first set, but some sluggish shot-selections allowed the ninth seed to force the game into a tie-break before Mauresmo finally regained her composure.

And it was not until the ninth game of a tight second set that the tournament favourite finally made her quality count by breaking her opponents serve to set up victory.

Mauresmo will now face another Frenchwoman, fifth seed Marion Bartoli, in the semi-finals after her 6-1 4-6 6-3 win over Russia's Elena Vesnina.

Second seed Jelena Jankovic looks most likely to meet Mauresmo in the final after she made her way into the other semi with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Maria Elena Camerin of Italy.

Jankovic will now meet sixth seed Anabel Medina Garrigues after she came from a set down to beat China's Na Li 2-6 6-3 7-5.

Top seed Mauresmo beaten in Rome

Amelie Mauresmo

Amelie Mauresmo's French Open preparations took a knock when she lost 7-5 6-7 7-6 to Samantha Stosur in round two of the Italian Open in Rome.

The top seed was playing her second tournament since appendix surgery and twice failed to take match points.

"I guess I didn't keep the intensity the way I should have," she said.

"I have nothing much to say but that I'm just disappointed, and obviously I guess the lack of matches showed a little bit at that moment."

Stosur had not even won a set in their previous five meetings but kept her head as Mauresmo missed match points in the ninth and 13th games of the deciding set.

Mauresmo saved a Stosur match point herself, before Stosur successfully challenged a call on a Mauresmo return, which turned out to be long.

That set up Stosur's second match point, which was converted when Mauresmo put a forehand return out.

"It went game-for-game until the third set, I had to keep fighting, try my best and see," said Stosur. "I pulled it out in the tiebreaker."

Second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and third seed Jelena Jankovic eased through, with straight-sets wins over Mara Santangelo and Tamira Paszek respectively.

Last year's runner-up Dinara Safina reached round three after a bizarre start to her game with Kaia Kanepi.

There were 10 breaks of serve in the first 11 games before Safina sealed a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win.

PREVIEW - Mauresmo heads weakened field at Italian Open
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ROME (Reuters) - With Amelie Mauresmo struggling after a two-month layoff following surgery and many of the world's top women missing, the chances for an outsider to take next week's Italian Open claycourt title in Rome have rarely looked so good.

Mauresmo, who won in Rome in 2004 and 2005, returned to competition at the claycourt German Open in Berlin this week - her first tournament since undergoing an operation to remove her appendix in March.

The 27-year-old Frenchwoman was hoping for a good run to give her match practice ahead of Roland Garros at the end of the month.

Instead, she fell in the third round to 21-year-old Julia Vakulenko, who lies 50 places below her in the world rankings.

"It's extremely frustrating. In Rome I hope to get as much time as possible on the courts," said Mauresmo.

"I'm physically fit and am totally recovered from the appendectomy. I now need as many matches as possible before the French Open."

In the absence of world number one and French Open champion Justine Henin, who is sitting out the tournament as she prepares for Roland Garros, and world number two Maria Sharapova, who is out with a shoulder injury, Mauresmo will start as top seed.

The retirement of world number five Kim Clijsters and the late withdrawal of defending champion Martina Hingis with a back injury have reduced the field further.

Like the rest of the top eight seeds, Mauresmo has a bye into the second round but there she faces a potentially difficult match with the winner of the first-round contest between Australia's Samantha Stosur and home favourite Francesca Schiavone.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, the world number four, heads the challengers in the other half of the draw.

The Russian, who finished runner-up at Roland Garros last year, is coming into form on clay and beat compatriot Nadia Petrova 7-6 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals in Berlin.

Of the other leading players, third seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, a Berlin quarter-finalist, is in the shape to claim her third title of the year.

Jankovic has been one of the most consistent players on the women's circuit this season, winning the hardcourt event in Auckland at the start of the year then adding the claycourt title at Charleston in March

Mauresmo slumps to Berlin defeat

Amelie Mauresmo

Second seed Amelie Mauresmo suffered a dramatic collapse as she went out of the German Open to Julia Vakulenko.

The pair resumed their held-over last-16 match with Mauresmo leading 6-2 1-1 but the Frenchwoman won just two games on the resumption.

Ukrainian Vakulenko followed up her 2-6 6-1 6-2 win with a 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory over eighth seed Dinara Safina.

Justine Henin trailed Jelena Jankovic 3-6 4-4 in their quarter-final when play was halted by bad light.

Earlier, world number one Henin had few problems beating Maria Elena Camerin 6-1 6-3 in the last 16.

The winner of the Henin-Jankovic match will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated Nadia Petrova 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in Friday's first quarter-final.

I was a step slow all day. What can you do, what can you say? Just keep practising

Amelie Mauresmo

World number three Mauresmo was playing her first tournament after a two month lay-off to recover from an appendicitis operation.

She lost the first seven games on Friday's resumption and when she finally won a game to trail 2-1 in the final set, she shook her racquet and screamed in joy.

However, a double-fault two games later saw Mauresmo slip 4-1 down and the match was over soon after.

"What can you do, what can you say? Just keep practising," said Mauresmo. "I need the rhythm of more matches, competition. I was a step slow all day."

World number 53 Vakulenko had to go through the pain barrier in her second match of the day after hurting her foot.

"I am really pleased to have got to the semi-finals, but the game against Safina was hard, because the foot got really sore during the rain break and I had to take anti-inflammatories to dull the pain," she said.

"I am looking forward to the semi-final on Saturday, I just hope I can walk on the foot when I get up in the morning."


Weather worries for world No 3 Mauresmo

Amelie Mauresmo addresses the media in Berlin. Pictures by Ibrahem Omari

BERLIN: Amelie Mauresmo is more worried about the damp Berlin weather than about her opponents at the $1.34mn Qatar Telecom German Open.
Returning to competition after having her appendix removed almost two months ago, the French World No 3 was thrilled to see Berlin basked in warm sunshine on Sunday, but steady rain yesterday and more bad weather forecast for the week has left her fearful she might not be able to get the kind of practice she needs to kick-start her clay court campaign in style leading up to the French Open.
“If it rains like this my preparations for the French Open will be hit,” said Mauresmo, who will be playing her first round match only tomorrow. “I came to Berlin early to get a feel of the clay, but looks like I’ll have to wait.”
Mauresmo, the second seed, also paid tributes to her close friend Kim Clijsters who announced her retirement from tennis on Sunday at the age of 24 after a brilliant career that saw her win 34 titles.
“Kim was a player who brought great joy and enthusiasm to the game wherever she played,” Mauresmo, the 2004 titlist here, noted.
“She has been thinking about retirement for quite some time now so I am sure that she is really convinced it’s the right decision for her.
“All the players on the WTA Tour are going to miss her a lot and I wish her the very best in her new life. Personally, I always enjoyed our rivalry because it brought the best out in both of us.”
The Qatar telecom German Open boasts of seven players in the top-10 with World No. 1 Justine Henin leading the star cast.
Henin yesterday became the first player to win three titles this season when she defeated Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko in the final of the J&S Cup in Warsaw, which was postponed by a day because of rain.
The pugnacious Belgian had titles in Dubai and Doha earlier this year and will be keen to avenge her defeat to Russian Nadia Petrova in last year’s Berlin final.
Her record on all surfaces is excellent and yesterday’s Warsaw title was her 11th clay court crown in a total of 32.
Henin, who won the Berlin title in 2002, 2003 and 2005, also praised compatriot Clijsters’ contribution to the game, crediting her with pushing her to scale greater heights.
“We have almost grown up together so it was pretty emotional when Kim announced her retirement,” said Henin.
“I have a lot of respect for her, for what she did as a person and as a player. We have helped each other to play better. It has been a good concurrence for us.
“She’s been a great player and it’s time for her to turn the page and do something else in here life and everyone has o respect that.
“She did a lot for the game, for Belgian tennis for sure, and I think I will have great memories of her that I will keep.”
Third seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and fourth seeded Martina Hingis are Henin’s and Mauresmo’s projected rivals in the semifinals. Hingis captured the 1999 title in Berlin, but since her comeback from retirement, she has played here only once, losing to Mauresmo in the quarter-finals last year.
Meanwhile, Nicole Vaidisova, who was slotted to be the No.6 seed, pulled out on Sunday because of a wrist injury.
“I am very disappointed to not be able to play in Berlin,” the World No.8 said.
“I flew all the way here hoping my wrist would get better. As I was born in Germany I feel a special connection with this country and was hoping to do well. It was my first time here in Berlin; I am hoping to be back next year able to compete.”

Mauresmo commits to Pilot Pen

Amelie Mauresmo

The Pilot Pen received its second commitment from a top-ranked player today when defending Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo announced she would play in New Haven.

The 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon women's singles champion became the first female player to commit to the 2007 Pilot Pen Tennis tournament on Tuesday. Mauresmo has played in New Haven seven times in the first nine years of the tournament. She has had a lot of success at the tournament reaching the quarterfinals five times (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006), the 2003 semifinal and the 2005 final.

In August the third-ranked Mauresmo will look to add a Pilot Pen title to her already impressive resume.

The good news for Mauresmo is that her Pilot Pen nemesis is unlikely to play in the Pilot Pen. Lindsay Davenport, the 2005 Pilot Pen singles champion, has beaten Mauresmo in New Haven five times since 1999. But Davenport is pregnant and is expecting to deliver her first child in June. Davenport didn't officially announce her retirement when news of the pregnancy broke late last year she said she has "no plans to play again."

Mauresmo has also been on the sidelines recently after undergoing an emergency appendectomy last month.

The 27-year-old Mauresmo hasn't played since losing to Justine Henin in the final at Dubai in late February. She has won 24 career singles titles and has won more that $13 million.

Mauresmo was originally planning to return to the tour later this month at the J&S Cup in Warsaw, Poland. But she is not on the official acceptance list. Mauresmo's official web site lists the May 5-13 German Open as the next tournament on Mauresmo's calendar so it is likely she will return at the Berlin, Germany event.

"We are delighted to have Amelie join the Pilot Pen field early," Pilot Pen Tennis tournament director Anne Worcester said in a statement. "As she is the defending Wimbledon champion, it is especially appropriate to announce her entry on the day that Wimbledon is announcing equal prize money levels for women for the first time in Wimbledon history."

The 2007 Pilot Pen will be held Aug. 17-25 at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven.

Former Fairfield resident and ninth-ranked James Blake previously committed to play in the Pilot Pen men's tournament.

Mauresmo is coming off a career year in 2006 in which she held the world No. 1 ranking for a significant portion of the year; won her first career major at the Australian Open and followed that by winning at Wimbledon; and won two titles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at Paris and Antwerp.

This year, she continued her success at Antwerp, winning her third title there. She also reached the final of Dubai, before withdrawing from her next few tournaments due to acute appendicitis. She has since recovered and will return to the tour in the coming months.

For tickets, how to become a volunteer, or more information about the tournament, please call the Pilot Pen Tennis Box Office, 888-99-PILOT, 203-776-7331, or log on to
www.pilotpentennis.com.

Mauresmo honoured with WTA award

Amelie Mauresmo was named the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour player of the year for 2006 in Miami on Friday.

The French favourite won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open at the beginning of last season and then added the Wimbledon title in July.

Among other players to be given awards by the poll of tennis journalists were Martina Hingis and Jelena Jankovic.

Swiss star Hingis won comeback player of the year and Serbian Jankovic was voted most improved player.

Mauresmo, who is currently recovering from an appendectomy, also won in Paris and Antwerp and was ranked number one for 34 weeks in a row.

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Former world number one Hingis returned from a three-year lay-off to win twice in 2006 and climb to seventh in the rankings.

Jankovic lost 10 of her first 11 matches before rallying to end the year with a 44-17 record and a run to the US Open semi-finals.

American Lisa Raymond and Australian Samantha Stosur repeated as WTA doubles team of the year. They won 10 titles in 2006, including a French Open crown.

Belgium's Kim Clijsters, 2005's player of the year, won sportsmanship and humanitarian awards, and Polish teen Agnieszka Radwanska was named top newcomer.