Tennis: Sweet revenge for Mauresmo

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The Independent Online
STORMING BACK from a nervous start, Amelie Mauresmo avenged her Australian Open final defeat by Martina Hingis with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 triumph over the world No 1 in Gaz de France Open in Paris yesterday.

Roared on by a passionate French crowd aware of the recent controversy between the players, Mauresmo used her greater physical power to eventually overrun Hingis. "It was like a soccer match, it could have been France against Brazil," a despondent and visibly shaken Hingis said of the crowd.

The contest re-opened the controversy that erupted before last month's Australian final, when Hingis described Mauresmo, who is gay, as "half a man." Hingis and Mauresmo had sought to play down the incident in the days leading up to the match, but both players were in determined spirit.

The crowd gave a hostile reception to Hingis, hissing her name as it was announced and booing whenever Hingis hit the ball in the warm-up.

Throughout the match, the crowd cheered Mauresmo, drawing repeated requests from the umpire for calm. Some fans waved French flags and banners, saying "We love you Amelie", and "We're behind you Amelie".

Hingis still took the first set and her 19-year-old opponent suffered a terrible start, overhitting strokes and struggling with her service. But she looked a different player in the second set, and in the third set broke Hingis' service while leading 4-3.

"In my other matches I wasn't as strong as I am today. I have more confidence now," Mauresmo said. "It was the best win of my career. The atmosphere was very special."

The French player said she is no longer concerned with Hingis' comments. "You just have to forget it. What's past is past. It is time to look to the future," she said.

Her semi-final opponent is Belgium's Dominique van Roost who showed stunning form in the second set to beat Russia's Elena Likhovtseva 7-5, 6-0. Van Roost, the No 3 seed, came through a close first set in which she served eight double faults, before outgunning the No 8 seed.

France's Nathalie Dechy outwitted her close friend and doubles partner Amelie Cocheteux, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 to become the first unseeded player to advance to the semi-finals.