Schiavone halts Henin’s win streak in Dubai

February 29th, 2008 - 12:16 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, Feb 29 (DPA) Italian outsider Francesca Schiavone ended the reign of Justine Henin at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships here with a nervy 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) quarter-final victory. The defeat Thursday night was the first at the venue for the Belgian world number one, who lifted titles in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007 and held a 17-0 record coming in.

The unexpected Italian plays Elena Dementieva in the semi-finals after the Russian eighth seed beat Serbian beauty Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Schiavone was overcome with emotion after finally beating the Belgian for the first time in eight meetings.

“I’m so happy, you don’t know how much this means to me. It was a 50-50 match and I got the 51 percent. To beat her you have to play well - and I did,” said the number 24, whose lone career title came in 2007.

Henin had to survive a three-hour battle 24 hours earlier in her opening match and had struggled this month at Antwerp.

“She did everything better than me,” said Henin, winner of seven Grand Slam titles. “She was difficult to play against.

“She came to the net a lot and forced me to do the same. She took away my opportunities and I was not able to do the same.”

In the other semi-finals, another Serbian Jelena Jankovic faces Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

Jankovic turned 23 with a cake on court after an abbreviated win against injured Anna Chakvetadze.

Supported by scores of vocal Serbian fans, the third seed easily advanced after just 32 minutes.

“It’s strange to be playing on my birthday,” said the smiling Serb. “They asked me in the training room today if it was my birthday and I said no.

“I don’t like to be the centre of attention. But when I walked onto court and the crowd sang to me, so I couldn’t really hide it.”

Jankovic was planning a half-hour post-match hit after sixth seed Chakvetadze had to quit with a leg injury.

She was later having a quiet dinner with her brother in preparation for her second semi-final of the season after the Australian Open. “I can then be a regular birthday girl off-duty.”

“I wanted to play a good match, get some rhythm and put my game together,” she said of the quick win. “I just want to try and play good tennis tomorrow.”

“I have so much support in the crowd, that I want to show my best ticket. I don’t want the fans to have a wasted ticket.”

Kuznetsova dispatched doubles partner Amelie Mauresmo 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) as the beaten Frenchwoman took confidence that her tennis is on the mend.

“She made no errors and in every game had two or three winners,” said former number one Mauresmo, a two-time Grand Slam champion in 2006 whose game has not been the same since an injury-wracked 2007.

“I would have loved to have done better today,” said Mauresmo. “I came up a little short in the tiebreaker, but it’s been an encouraging week.”

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