Mauresmo, Henin Pace Seeded Charge in Dubai

Posted on February 21, 2007

DUBAI, U.A.E. - The top four seeds went 4-0 on Wednesday at the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open with Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Martina Hingis winning their opening matches.

Dubai seems to suit top seed and defending champion Henin very well as she now has a perfect 13-0 record in Dubai, after winning three titles. But her opening match wasn't as easy as she had hoped. She probably didn't know too much about her opponent, 16-year-old qualifier Tamira Paszek of Austria, but she was certainly challenged.

As expected, Paszek played like she had nothing to lose, an approach that worked because she claimed the first set 64. She continued to push Henin in the second but wasn't as effective as the former world No.1 stepped up her game to take the second set 75 and even the match at one set all.

Henin finally found her stride in the third set and secured the win, 46 75 61, in a total of two hours, 28 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals.

She will next face Greece's Eleni Daniilidou, who beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama earlier in the day, 57 61 75, to reach her second quarterfinal of 2007.

No.2 seed Amelie Mauresmo had an easier time in her opening match, needing just one hour, nine minutes, to defeat Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina, 62 62.

"I was concentrating a lot tonight on my footwork, as I know thatís what I have to work on right now, so this match was good for me," Mauresmo said.

Mauresmo is coming off a title win at Antwerp this past Sunday and hopes to continue her winning ways as she takes on No.8 seed Daniela Hantuchova, a 26 64 76(4) winner over Maria Kirilenko in the first match of the day.

The 2004 Dubai Duty Free Women's Open runner-up and No.3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame a tough second-set challenge to beat American Meghann Shaughnessy, 61 76(4).

After the first set, Shaughnessy improved her game to force the tie-break.

"At the start of the second set, I let her back into the match. I won the first set easily and had chances in the second, but after that, she served better and I couldnít break her," Kuznetsova said. "I was happy in the tie-break that I was able to raise my level and finish it off in two sets."

The 21-year-old Russian will meet No.6 seed Patty Schnyder in the quarterfinals.

Schnyder survived a tough three-setter against Australia's Alicia Molik to reach her first round of eight of 2007.

After losing the first set, a frustrated Schnyder turned her game around to win the second set. She started the third with a break to go up 2-1 but struggled to serve out the match at 5-4, facing three break points. But she fought all three off and on her fifth match point, took the win, 46 62 64, in just over two hours. 

In the last match of the day, No.4 seed Martina Hingis also needed three sets beat Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues. Hingis' last event was over two weeks ago, when she won the Tier I event at Tokyo [Pan Pacific].

Against Medina Garrigues, she had a tough start, dropping the first set. She rallied back to claim the second. Medina Garrigues didn't give up in the decisive third set, but Hingis got the crucial break and eventually the win, 57 63 64.

The No.6-ranked Hingis, who was the tournament's first champion in 2001, will take on No.5 seed Jelena Jankovic in the quarters.

Jankovic advanced on Wednesday with a 63 75 win over Italy's Mara Santangelo.

Thursday's quarterfinal action begins at 2 p.m. local time with Hantuchova taking on Mauresmo, followed by Jankovic vs. Hingis. The featured night match will be Kuznetsova against Schnyder, followed by Henin vs. Daniilidou. (WTA)