Henin-Hardenne beats Davenport

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - Top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne beat No. 5 Lindsay Davenport 7-5, 6-3 Tuesday and advanced to the Australian Open semifinals.

Earlier, fourth-seeded Amelie Mauresmo pulled out of her quarterfinal because of torn back muscles. That put Fabiola Zuluaga into the semis, where she'll face Henin-Hardenne.

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Henin-Hardenne lost the opening four games before reeling off seven of the next eight to take the first set in 52 minutes.

''That wasn't easy. Lindsay was playing unbelievable at the start, I wasn't ready for that,'' Henin-Hardenne said. ''I played every point as best I could. I came back in the set and that give me confidence.

Davenport lost only one point in her first two service games but ended with 33 unforced errors as her forehand failed in the long rallies. The loss left Lisa Raymond as the only American woman remaining in the singles event.

Henin-Hardenne, the French Open and U.S. Open champion, next faces the 32nd-seeded Zuluaga. She got a free pass into the last four when Mauresmo withdrew 90 minutes before their scheduled match.

Mauresmo ''is tough to play, but I can beat her,'' Zuluaga said. ''It feels good to be in the semi, but I didn't want it to be this way the first time. I'd rather play matches than have the rest.''

Mauresmo was injured while stretching for a backhand volley Sunday against Alicia Molik. Mauresmo had a 10-minute hitting session Tuesday morning with coach Loic Courteau, then tearfully announced she was withdrawing.

''I wanted to try this morning and have a little hit and see how I felt. I have pain. I have to withdraw from this tournament,'' she said. ''When I hit some shots, I can feel really strong pain. The other thing is it could get worse if I play. The best thing to do is to rest.''

Courteau said Mauresmo insisted on preparing for the match despite scans showing problems in her back.

''As soon as she went up to the net to volley, it was like a knife thrust in her back,'' he said.

The top women are still in the draw, with Belgians Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters still in contention, but No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 are out.

Third-seeded Venus Williams was upset in the third round by Raymond, further depleting a draw missing injured defending champion Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati.

Mauresmo and No. 5 Davenport both exited within hours.

Henin-Hardenne had rallied from 1-4 in the third set to win their fourth-round match at Melbourne Park last year.

Davenport, the 2000 Australian Open champion, withdrew from their semifinal in a Sydney warmup tournament earlier this month because of a shoulder problem.

On the men's side, top-ranked Andy Roddick and defending champion Andre Agassi were a win away from a showdown in the semifinals.

Roddick faced Marat Safin in his quarterfinal Tuesday. Agassi, on a 25-match streak at Melbourne Park, played No. 9 Sebastien Grosjean, a semifinalist in 2001.

Mauresmo has won 10 tournaments but never a Grand Slam. She lost the final here in 1999 and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all four majors, although she has been plagued by injuries.

''I was playing some good tennis and I had some opportunities in this tournament - I always play well here,'' Mauresmo said. ''But that's just the way it is, there's nothing to do about it.''

Mauresmo lost only six games in her opening three matches here before Molik took her to 7-5, 7-5.

Zuluaga, 25, was off tour for 10 months in 2001 following operations to correct a congenital defect in her right shoulder. She was 2-5 against Mauresmo, including a first-round win at the Sydney Olympics.

Lleyton Hewitt, Australia's last hope at the title, went out as fireworks from celebrations for the national day crackled in the background.

Rattled by a foot fault, Hewitt was beaten by Wimbledon champion Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 in the fourth round Monday. Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis was earlier eliminated 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 by Morocco's Hicham Arazi.

No Australian has won the home championship since Mark Edmondson in 1976.

Federer next faces No. 8 David Nalbandian, who beat Guillermo Canas 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in an all-Argentine match.

Juan Carlos Ferrero twice needed treatment on his upper left leg in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Romania's Andrei Pavel. The Spaniard does not expect the injury to trouble him.

Among the women, Clijsters, No. 6 Anastasia Myskina, No. 22 Patty Schnyder and No. 25 Raymond won fourth-round matches Monday.