Mauresmo, Clijsters Set for Antwerp Showdown

Posted on February 18, 2007

ANTWERP, Belgium - Amélie Mauresmo is now just one step away from claiming the Proximus Diamond Games' coveted diamond-studded racquet, after notching a hard-fought three set win over Anna Chakvetadze in the semifinals of the $600,000, Tier II event. In Sunday's final she faces another one of the tournament's standouts, Kim Clijsters.

Mauresmo, the No.1`seed, fought hard to defeat the No.7-seeded Chakvetadze, capitalizing on a quick start in the third set to clinch her third win in three career meetings with the Russian, 63 36 62.

"I couldn't find my rhythm," said Mauresmo on the middle set troubles; but she was able to regroup right away, reeling off the first four games of the third en route to the one-hour, 41-minute victory. "I found my concentration again."

It was the second straight week Mauresmo and Chakvetadze were playing in the later rounds of an event. At the Open Gaz de France they met in the quarters, where the Frenchwoman also won, but that time in two much-tighter sets.

Mauresmo is now a step away from the tournament's diamond racquet, which is given to a player that claims three titles at the event over the course of five years. She won her first Antwerp trophy in 2004, with a three set championship win over Venus Williams; last year she also won it in three sets, over Clijsters.

Clijsters will again be Mauresmo's championship challenge. On Saturday the No.2-seeded Belgian overcame a slow start to make it past an unseeded Tatiana Golovin, 64 63. She'll seek her second Antwerp title, having won it in 2004.

"I kept on battling to find my aggressive play; I was lucky to win the first set," said Clijsters, who won four games in a row to erase an early 4-2 deficit.

Mauresmo and Clijsters have faced each other 15 times, with the Belgian up in that series, 8-6; but the Frenchwoman has won their last four encounters, an exciting 36 63 63 triumph in last year's Antwerp final among those victories.

Clijsters is also trying to become the first woman in 2007 to win multiple titles, having captured another Tier II event, the Medibank International, in Sydney, just before the Australian Open. Mauresmo is playing in her first final of 2007.

Black, Huber try to keep 2007 streak alive in doubles final

So far this year they have been the world's hottest doubles players, and they will try to keep that trend alive in the Proximus Diamond Games doubles final, which is up straight after the singles final.

Cara Black and Liezel Huber have been on fire since hitting Melbourne, winning the Australian Open (their second major together) and the Open Gaz de France last week. In the 10 victories it took them to win those titles, they dropped just one set, in the Melbourne final. The top seeds in Belgium, they've barely lost any games to reach their third consecutive final, and will take on No.4-seeded Russian duo Elena Likhovtseva and Elena Vesnina, the winning team at Hobart in January. (WTA)