Majoli marches on to second final

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The Independent Online
IVA MAJOLI, the top seed, progressed into the final of her second consecutive tournament yesterday with a three-set victory over the third- seeded Magdalena Maleeva at the Open Gaz de France in Paris. The Croat rallied after dropping the first set to beat the Bulgarian 1-6 7-5 6-3.

In the other semi-final, Julie Halard, of France, reached the final for the second time in three years as she beat the Italian Silvia Farina 6- 4 6-4. Halard lost in the 1994 final to Martina Navratilova, which was the veteran's last tournament win.

It was only the second match of the week for the fourth-ranked Majoli. She had a first-round bye and a second-round walkover when her opponent was injured.

She dropped her first set of the week against the 16-year-old qualifier Nathalie Dechy in the quarter-finals on Friday before triumphing; against Maleeva she dropped the first set in only 23 minutes and looked to be going out after falling behind a service break at 2-0 in the second set.

Things then began to turn around for Majoli. Using her powerful forehand, she levelled at 2-2 and eventually prevailed 7-5 in the second set. She raced to a 4-0 lead in the final set and Maleeva, ranked No 7 in the world, started getting frustrated as the errors began to flow.

Majoli won the Pan Pacific tournament in Japan earlier this month and only lost in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to the resurgent Monica Seles, the eventual champion and joint world No 1.

In Essex, Andrew Richardson convincingly reached the final of the LTA men's indoor satellite tournament at Chigwell after beating Ofer Sela, of Israel, 6-4 6-2. The Lincolnshire player looked confident throughout as he set up a meeting with Giorgio Galimberti of Italy in today's final. Galimberti beat Aleksander Kitinov of Macedonia 6-1 7-5 in the other semi-final, taking the first set in only 25 minutes but then struggling as he went 5-2 down in the second.

But Kitinov, who has been suffering from a stomach upset, then weakened, allowing Galimberti to win the next five games and take the match.