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Serena Defeats Mauresmo at French Open

June 3, 2003

PARIS (AP) _ A stern Serena Williams took a partisan crowd out of the match and sent Amelie Mauresmo out of the French Open, winning 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Playing with an uncharacteristic glare, Williams was all business as she avenged a loss to the Frenchwoman at Rome on May 17.

``I’m on a mission,″ Williams said. ``I plan on reaching it.″

In the semifinals Thursday, Williams will face the only other player to beat her this year, Justine Henin-Hardenne. The No. 4-seeded Belgian beat No. 8 Chanda Rubin 6-3, 6-2.

Williams won her first 21 matches this year before losing to Henin-Hardenne in the final at Charleston, S.C., on April 13.

``She’s the favorite, for sure,″ Henin-Hardenne said. ``She has great motivation. She wants to win the French Open. But we’ll see on the court.″

Also advancing was Henin-Hardenne’s compatriot, No. 2 Kim Clijsters, who beat Conchita Martinez 6-2, 6-1.

Clijsters’ opponent Thursday will be unseeded Nadia Petrova, the first female Russian semifinalist at the French Open in 28 years. She beat compatriot Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Petrova had the edge in a series of grueling baseline rallies against Zvonareva, who was coming off an upset of Venus Williams in the fourth round.

``I gave every bit of energy I have into this match,″ said Petrova, who is ranked 76th. ``I’m so pleased with it.″

The last Russian woman to play in the semifinals at Roland Garros was Olga Morozova in 1975.

Williams’ match was her first since her sister lost, preventing a fifth consecutive all-Williams Grand Slam final. Serena has won 33 Grand Slam matches in a row, a streak that began at last year’s French Open, and she’s bidding for her fifth consecutive major title.

The center-court crowd was eager to see the fifth-seeded Mauresmo stage an upset, but instead an overpowering Williams raced to a 4-0 lead, winning 16 of the first 19 points. After Mauresmo made it 4-1, Williams won six games in a row and again led 4-0.

The rout ended with Mauresmo dumping a backhand into the net on match point.

``I didn’t play my best tennis,″ she said. ``I was feeling a bit nervous. I only started to play well in the last games of this match. It’s something I regret.″

Mauresmo committed 34 unforced errors, double-faulted six times and hit just five winners to 24 for Williams.

``I’ve seen Amelie play a little bit better, but I also played well,″ Williams said. ``It’s hard to play your best when I’m playing really well.″

Petrova, who upset Jennifer Capriati in the fourth round, won despite struggling with her serve against Zvonareva. Six consecutive breaks in the final set made the score 3-all before Petrova held with an ace.

She broke again by winning a 49-stroke rally, which she finished off with a forehand winner to take a 5-3 lead. Petrova raised her arms in jubilation, then pounded her chest with her fist.

Zvonareva, seeded 22nd, extended some rallies by hitting moon balls _ a tactic rarely seen in recent years at Roland Garros. She won a 39-stroke exchange to save the first match point, but Petrova then smacked a service winner for the victory.

Petrova blew kisses to the crowd and flexed her arm. She said she was proud of the way she bounced back after losing the second set.

``I just said, `C’mon, there’s no wasting of energy just in the stupid emotions. Just keep everything into the points,‴ Petrova said.

Zvonareva, 18, said the pressure of playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal wasn’t a factor.

``Nadia was playing unbelievably good today,″ Zvonareva said. ``She didn’t make any mistakes.″

Clijsters, the runner-up at the 2001 French Open, hit 29 winners against Martinez, who was playing the quarterfinals for the 11th time. The Spaniard committed 35 unforced errors and walked to the exit shaking her head.

``I had to have a lot of patience because the rallies were taking long,″ Clijsters said. ``It was tough with her slices, but I did it well.″

The crowd at Court Suzanne Lenglen included Clijsters’ boyfriend, top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, who was upset in the third round of men’s singles.

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