It may not have been the final people had hoped see, but, having sent Venus Williams and Monica Seles packing the previous day, two French compatriots, Sandrine Testud and Amelie Mauresmo, were determined to make the most of the Dubai Duty Free Open here.
The 22-year-old Mauresmo, who had eliminated Seles, proved to be one step ahead of Testud, who had edged out Williams, the world No 1 elect, in a stamina-sapping semi-final and had also fought her way to the doubles final, a tough workload for her 29-year-old legs. Mauresmo prevailed, 6-4, 7-6, after an hour and 44 minutes.
Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the first all-French women's final of the open era, Mary Pierce's 6-1, 6-1 victory against Catherine Tanvier in Cesena, Italy. Mauresmo's contest with Testud was a closer run affair befitting players seeded No 3 and No 4 respectively.
Mauresmo, troubled by her serve in the opening set, broke for 2-0, but immediately lost the advantage. Testud, though under pressure in the sixth and eighth games, managed to stay level until serving at 4-5, at which point two over-hit forehands cost her the set.
By now Mauresmo was serving with more confidence, but Testud passed her with a backhand down the line to break for 5-4 in the second. This was the start of an exciting conclusion to the match. Testud, serving for the set, netted a forehand at 15-40. She recovered to break for 6-5 after winning the most exhilarating rally of the match, hitting the line with a cross-court backhand after the players had exchanged angled shots on the run.
Once again, Testud was unable to serve out the set, netting a forehand after Mauresmo had beaten her with a smash, and the set went to a tie-break. Testud led 3-2 with a mini-break, but was unable to hold her next two serves, and Mauresmo went on to win the shoot-out, 7-4.
Having secured the seventh title of her career, Mauresmo will hope to avoid the hype that greeted her at the French Open last year after she had won four titles en route, at the Paris Indoor event, Nice, Amelia Island and Berlin. The expectation at Roland Garros proved too much for her, and she lost in the first round to Jana Kandarr, of Germany.
In Bogota, the defending champion Paola Suarez of Argentina suffered an unexpected defeat in the Colsanitas Cup when she lost in the quarter-finals late on Friday to the local favourite Fabiola Zuluaga 6-2, 6-4. Zuluaga went on to beat the Spaniard Cristina Torrens-Valero in yesterday's semi, 6-4, 6-4.