Tennis: Powerful Garrison glides into final

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The Independent Online
ZINA Garrison Jackson yesterday advanced to the final of the DFS Classic, defeating Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-4 3-6 6-4. In today's final she meets her fellow American Lori McNeil, who beat the Dutch giant Brenda Schultz 3-6 7-5 6-2 in the other semi-final.

Garrison Jackson brought her greater experience to bear, relying on consistency and persistence and waiting for her opponent to make mistakes. Tauziat obliged with a catalogue of howlers and never threatened to take charge. 'I had a lot of chances to win the match in the second set,' Garrison Jackson said afterwards, 'but I didn't take them. Then in the third set I got my backhand passing shots working, and Nathalie got a bit nervous and missed some easy shots.'

Both players seemed nervous to begin with, which was puzzling given that between them they have more than 22 years' experience on the circuit, and Edgbaston - green and pleasant though it was in the sunshine - is hardly Wimbledon. The first set was a real lady's excuse me, the two players trading service breaks with the generosity of old friends.

Tauziat barely landed a first serve, and Garrison Jackson was unwilling to come to the net. But the veteran Texan settled first and her greater solidity began to tell as Tauziat double-faulted more and more often. Garrison Jackson took the first set 6-4 on yet another break of Tauziat's fragile serve.

Tauziat's repertoire of shrugs, grimaces and Gallic exhortations seemed to deliver some self-motivation in the second set and she began to land some powerful first serves. Garrison Jackson remained cautious and the French player's aggression and powerful volleying gave her the set 6-3.

But then it all went wrong again. 'Ce n'est pas Paris ici]' Tauziat reminded herself at one point, but if she had located her whereabouts she had once again mislaid her serve, and when limp backhands started to find the net and overhit forehands flew beyond the lines her spirits visibly fell.

Garrison Jackson, at last, injected some urgency into her game, scuttling determinedly around the court retrieving every possible ball and, at one point, almost cutting herself in half on the net cord in pursuit of a drop shot. The veteran expanded her range of shots impressively, lobbing and volleying with confidence. One particularly fine forehand pass brought her opponent to her knees in despair.

In the other semi-final, McNeil staged a remarkable comeback to beat Schultz, who was a set up and serving for 3-1 in the second when she was foot-faulted. 'It's never happened in my life,' she said after the match, 'and I was a little bit upset.' She certainly was. The gun-sight fell off her bazooka serve and she was soon spraying mishits all over the court, causing linesmen and officials to duck and weave like England batsmen in the Caribbean. McNeil, the defending champion, served out for the match to set up an intriguing final.