Martinez sounds French Open warning

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The Independent Online

Spain's Conchita Martinez sent out a warning that she should be higher on the list of favourites for the French Open with an impressive 6-1 6-2 demolition of Amanda Coetzer in the German Open final on Sunday.

The former Wimbledon champion, seeded third, took just 83 minutes to despatch her South African opponent for her second triumph in the Berlin claycourt event following victory in 1998.

As on Saturday, when she had tamed top seed Martina Hingis 7-5 6-4 in their semifinal, she put in a near-faultless performance, varying her game from the baseline and occasionally taking the net to conclude a rally with a crisp volley or a sharp smash.

"Everything worked perfectly." she said. "Playing that way makes me believe that, maybe, I can win another Grand Slam, and why not the French Open."

The 28-year-old proved she could shine on all surfaces by becoming the first Spanish woman to win Wimbledon in 1994 and again this year when she reached the semifinals of the Australian Open.

But she remains chiefly a baseliner and the form she displayed in Berlin suggested she could do damage at Roland-Garros.

"Starting the year well gave me confidence for the claycourt season." she said. "Clay is my favourite surface and, hopefully, I can be fully fit for the French Open and do well there."

There remains a question mark over her fitness and shortly before the final Martinez said she was pulling out of the Italian Open starting on Monday because she had aggravated an injury to her right Achilles tendon playing doubles on Saturday.

But she did not look hampered by any injury worry on court, cruising to victory on a hot, sunny day in the German capital.

"The injury's not too bad but I don't want to take the risk of making it worse in Rome and having to miss the French." she said.

"I've been playing a lot lately and I need a break to get some treatment and give my body a rest.

Tenth seed Coetzer started the match in promising fashion, breaking her opponent straight away after a close opening game which lasted 10 minutes.

But Martinez broke back immediately and gradually moved on top, Coetzer losing patience at the end of long rallies and making many unforced errors.

Coetzer dropped serve again in the fourth game and Martinez later hit a forehand winner to take a 5-1 lead and serve for the set, which she wrapped up with a smash.

Martinez was one break up in the second set when Coetzer sent a backhand wide to go 5-2 down.

The Spaniard went on to earn three match points, converting the first with a crisp forehand volley.

"It wasn't as easy at it may seem." said Martinez. "There were long rallies and she made me fight. But I did play well."

Her 32nd career title will see the veteran Spaniard climb five spots up to third - her highest ranking since 1996 - when the new WTA list is released on Monday.

Coetzer admitted she had felt helpless. "There was nothing I could do." she said. "She just played her game so well and never really gave me a chance to play mine.

"She hits the ball very high, gives it a lot of spin and can change its direction whenever she wants. That's her style and it makes it very difficult to put her under pressure. She always has the answer."

Both Martinez and Coetzer had little time to rest as they then played the doubles final, Martinez teaming up with fellow Spaniard Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario to take on Coetzer and American Corina Morariu.

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