Seles and Dementieva advance to semifinals

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The Independent Online

Monica Seles, playing probably her last Chase Championships, and Elena Dementieva, playing in her first, both won to set up a meeting in the semifinals of the season-ending tournament.

Monica Seles, playing probably her last Chase Championships, and Elena Dementieva, playing in her first, both won to set up a meeting in the semifinals of the season-ending tournament.

Seles pounded out a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Amanda Coetzer before Dementieva defeated Kim Clijsters 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 Friday.

Saturday's semifinals will pit doubles partners Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova against each other, followed by Seles and Dementieva.

"I'm a fighter," Seles said of trying to win her fourth title on the blue Madison Square Garden carpet, but her first since 1992. "I go out and I'm very competitive on the court and just do the best that I can. If that's good that day, that's fantastic."

She has refused to play in Germany since she was stabbed in the back during a tournament in Hamburg in 1993 and her assailant, Guenter Parche, was never jailed.

The tournament, which have been played in the Garden since 1979, will move to Munich, Germany, next year.

Standing between Seles and another final is 19-year-old Dementieva, who made her Garden debut by upsetting defending champion Lindsay Davenport.

"It was my dream to play against Monica and it's just a great experience for me," said the tall right-hander whose inside-out forehand is somewhat reminiscent of Steffi Graf's feared weapon.

Against Clijsters, at 17 the youngest in the elite 16-player field, Dementieva needed the forehand and a lot more.

The match figured to be a peek at the future. If it was, the future is unforced errors because the two committed a bundle of them: 39 by Dementieva, 49 by Clijsters.

It was the steadiness of Dementieva that took the first set. But Clijsters, who hadn't played since Monday night when she upset fifth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, appeared to settle down and had no problems leveling the match at a set apiece.

Then came the longest game of the night, one that saw seven deuces, six game points and four break points before the young Belgian finally prevailed. That gave her a 4-2 lead and an apparent berth in the semifinals.

Dementieva had other plans. She broke right back, dropping just two points, then held at 15.

She broke Clijsters again in the ninth game, this time at 30, then held at love to grab a spot in the semis.

The foot problems that have hampered Seles have disappeared, much to her surprise.

"I'm just very happy," she said of the lack of pain. "Hopefully it will just keep going like the last couple of days."

Without the pain, Seles showed quickness to go along with her two-fisted power off both sides. Against Coetzer, she displayed a game that was reminiscent of those heady, winning days nearly a decade ago when she was No. 1 in the world.

The two traded long-range laser shots that pounded the court just inside the lines. Seles, playing from just inside the baseline, was a little sharper, hit a little harder and controlled most of the rallies.

Coetzer, at 5-foot-2 one of the shortest players on the WTA Tour, stayed close to Seles, but could never quite narrow the gap.

After beginning the match by serving a love game, Seles broke the South African's serve at 15 when she rifled a backhand service return down the line to take a 3-1 lead. The two then traded service breaks in the seventh and eighth games before Seles served for the opening set.

On the first set point, Coetzer hit a service return that was so clean that Seles applauded. Then she closed out the set with an unreturnable serve.

"The best thing about Monica's game is her competitiveness," Coetzer said. "She seems to be able to raise her level at the right moment just enough."

Seles began the second set by breaking Coetzer at 30. No more were needed as Seles was able to hold her own service games, although she was twice taken to deuce - in the sixth and eighth games.

It was her ninth win in 10 meetings at Coetzer, but the first time that Seles has beaten the little right-hander on carpet.

Results from the $2 million Chase Championships of the Sanex WTA Tour at Madison Square Garden:

Singles Quarterfinals

(3) Monica Seles (US) def. Amanda Coetzer (SA) 6-3, 6-4

Elena Dementieva (Rus) def. Kim Clijsters (Bel) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4

(1) Martina Hingis (Swit) def. (6) Nathalie Tauziat (Fr) 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-2

(7) Anna Kournikova (Rus) def. (4) Conchita Martinez (Sp) 6-4, 6-0

Doubles Semifinals

Nicole Arendt (US) and Manon Bollegraf (Neth) def. Els Callens and Dominique Van Roost (Bel) 7-5, 6-3.

(2) Martina Hingis (Swit) and Anna Kournikova (Rus) def. (3) Lisa Raymond (US) and Rennae Stubbs (Aus) 6-4 6-2

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