Tauziat shows vintage form

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The Independent Online

Nathalie Tauziat proved that age is no barrier here yesterday when her fourth game in two days saw her advance to the fourth DFS Classic final of her career.

Tauziat, at 33 the longest-serving member of the WTA and the oldest singles entrant for Wimbledon, beat the defending champion, Lisa Raymond, 6-0 7-6 in just over two hours after clinching her semi-final spot by overcoming Luxembourg's Anne Kremer.

The Frenchwoman, in her last season, also had a doubles final and was relieved when organisers decided to move the singles final over to an extra day. "It's good for the players and the fans because if we were tired it would not be much of a final," said Tauziat, who will have her bags packed for a quick dash down to Eastbourne at close of play today.

"I am playing this year for fun. Now when I play my best tennis and lose I am relaxed because I know I just played somebody who played better than me." She went on: "I don't know if that was the best I've ever played on grass but I certainly felt confident. I feel really confident going into the final and I know I have a chance to win it."

Tauziat was in majestic form in her first set against Raymond, taking 18 minutes and dropping six points, and she looked set for a lightning win when she broke the American in the first game of the second set. But Raymond rallied, breaking back in the fourth game of the set and, after being broken three games later, prolonged matters by breaking Tauziat as the No 1 seed served for the match.

Tauziat recovered from 5-3 down in the tie-break to earn valuable respite before her doubles final. The top seed recovered her poise to win four points in a row, fittingly finishing the match with a booming cross-court return. Raymond admitted she had struggled to get into the match against a player whose victory over Kremer had provided a perfect warm-up.

"It's been a weird 48 hours. Usually when you play your semi-final it's a much bigger deal than what it was today. It was kind of dreary. But she played great in the first set. I haven't seen her play so well since I don't know when," she said.

After torrential rain stopped play on Friday, Tauziat had resumed her match against Kremer wearing tracksuit bottoms in the freezing conditions. After securing the first set with a forehand winner, the 33-year-old raised her level of play in the second set and raced to a 4-0 lead with her trademark serve and volley game.

However, the fifth game witnessed eight deuces as Kremer dug deep with some penetrating serves to save herself the indignity of being wiped out in the set. But Tauziat's experience triumphed and she secured the game on her sixth break point with a brilliant crosscourt volley.

In the final Tauziat is due to meet the Dutchwoman Miriam Oremans, who came from a set down to end the surprise run of the Slovakian 18-year-old Daniela Hantuchova 2-6 6-4 7-6.

Oremans' experience told as she twice hit back from a break down in the final set, taking advantage of some wild baseline shots from Hantuchova.