Baltacha back in the groove to stand on the brink of Dubai Open

Only a fortnight ago Elena Baltacha lost in the first round of a Challenger tournament in Jersey where the total prize-money was less than £15,000. Yesterday the 22-year-old Briton reached the final round of qualifying for the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, in which nearly £600,000 is at stake.

Baltacha dropped only one game in beating Croatia's Martina Gregoric in the first round but faced a much stiffer test against Mashona Washington. The 29-year-old American, ranked 113 places higher in the world at 97, is a veteran of more than 500 matches but was comprehensively outplayed as Baltacha won 6-2, 6-3 despite regular distractions. Washington twice had treatment from a physiotherapist and a ball-girl was carried off after falling ill.

"It wasn't easy to concentrate at times, but I'm delighted with the win," Baltacha said. "I was pleased with the way I held my nerve on the big points."

Baltacha will play in the main draw alongside the likes of Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Lindsay Davenport, Amélie Mauresmo and Martina Hingis if she can win her final qualifier today against Kateryna Bondarenko, who is from Baltacha's native Ukraine.

Bondarenko's sister, Alona, accounted for another Briton in qualifying, beating 14-year-old Jennifer Smith 6-0, 6-0.

In Antwerp, Mauresmo, the defending champion, claimed her third title in succession when she beat the world No1, Kim Clijsters, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Proximus Diamond Games yesterday.

It was the first meeting between the world's top two players since an injury forced Clijsters to retire during their Australian Open semi-final last month.

Mauresmo went on to win the Open, her first Grand Slam title. Yesterday's win was her third in a row over Clijsters and came seven days after her triumph at the Paris Open.

However, the Frenchwoman had to come from behind after Clijsters broke her serve twice to take the first set.

Mauresmo gained momentum after going up 4-2 in the final set, taking advantage of errors made by Clijsters, who was tiring fast. "I had the chance to do it, but I came [up] a bit short and I felt it in my legs," Clijsters said.

A third win for Mauresmo next year will mean she keeps the diamond-studded racket worth €1m (£710,000). She heads for the Dubai Open in the knowledge that if she reaches the final, she will swap places with Clijsters at the top of the world rankings.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album