Experience Shows as Seles Downs Henin in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – Monica Seles continued her good run of form by beating second seed Justine Henin 6-4 6-3 on Friday in the quarter-finals of the Paris Open indoor tournament.
Fifth seed Seles will meet Jelena Dokic in the semifinals after the Yugoslav defeated Elena Dementieva 5-7 6-1 6-2.

Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo crushed unseeded Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-2, and the Frenchwoman’s opponent in the last four will be top seed Venus Williams , who dispatched another Italian, Silvia Farina Elia, 6-2 6-1.

World number seven Henin said Seles’s greater experience had given her the edge.

“It was experience rather than quality of tennis that made the difference,” the 19-year-old Belgian said. “I’ve been in the top 10 for less than a year while Seles has years and years of experience and a great record. She’s accustomed to playing matches at this level.”

The 28-year-old American sent the pint-sized Henin racing around the court with a series of shots from the baseline that peppered the baseline.

Henin responded with several winning serve-volley combinations and also produced some fine baseline shots. She broke to lead 4-3, but the aggressive Seles then won three straight games to take the first set.

In the second set the players earned huge cheers from the near sell-out crowd with a series of stunning rallies. Both held serve up to 4-3 before Seles, ranked 10th in the world, broke and held to win the match.


Mauresmo, the third seed and world number eight, gave Schiavone little room for maneuver as she pounded shots all round the court.

The Italian, ranked 29th in the world, resisted early in the first set by saving improbable balls thanks to her speed, but Mauresmo broke to lead 4-2 and won four straight games to wrap the set.

The second set followed exactly the same pattern, with Schiavone unable to stem the flow of cannonball shots from the powerful Frenchwoman.

“I played an excellent match. I was feeling a bit like this time last year, when I won a series of tournaments,” Mauresmo said.

She was upbeat about her chances against world number two Williams.

“I have the weapons to stop her playing the way she likes to,” she said.

Earlier, Williams took the first set 6-2 and the second set was even worse for the hapless Italian, who trailed 4-0 before a desperate effort allowed her to break Williams. For most of the match, however, she had no answer to the top seed’s merciless serve and powerful strokes.

Fourth-seeded Dokic came from behind to beat Russian Dementieva before setting her sights on breaking into the world’s top-five this year.

“I’m looking toward the top five,” the 18-year-old said. “But it’s going to be tough to stay where I am. You see a lot of players get there and then go back so my first aim is to stay there.”