Clijsters loses again at WTA C’ships

Los Angeles, November 10:

Amelie Mauresmo defeated US Open champion Kim Clijsters 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the WTA Championships on Wednesday night, jeopardizing the Belgian’s chances of making the semi-finals and challenging Lindsay Davenport for the year-end No 1 ranking.

Clijsters, a two-time winner of the season-ending tournament, lost her opening match in three sets to Mary Pierce, giving her an 0-2 record in round-robin play with one match remaining.

Davenport owns a 155-point lead over No 2 Clijsters in the rankings, and whoever has the best showing this week will end the year in the top spot. Clijsters gets Thursday off and will try to qualify for the semi-finals in her last round-robin match on Friday. Mauresmo beat Clijsters for the first time since the 2002 US Open after winning a total of three games in their previous two meetings. Mauresmo is 3-8 in her career against the Belgian.

Clijsters fought off two match points to hold serve at 5-4. She broke Mauresmo in the next game and then held for a 6-5 lead on Mauresmo’s backhand error.

Mauresmo, trying to become the first Frenchwoman to win the championships, served an easy game at 6-all.

In the tiebreak, Clijsters led 5-4 on another backhand error by Mauresmo. But Mauresmo recovered with a backhand volley winner, then Clijsters sent Mauresmo’s second serve past the baseline on the third match point in front of an announced crowd of 3,911 at Staples Centre.

Clijsters served 70 per cent against Mauresmo, but Clijsters had 36 unforced errors and converted just 2 of 11 break points.

Pierce earned her 500th career win, defeating Elena Dementieva of Russia 6-2, 6-3 to lead the Black group with a 2-0 record.

Davenport defeated Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5 to move atop her group with a 2-0 record after not making it out of round-robin play last year.

In the Green group, Davenport is 2-0, Sharapova is 1-0, Nadia Petrova is 0-1 and Schnyder is 0-2. In the Black group, Pierce is 2-0, Mauresmo is 1-0, Dementieva is 0-1 and Clijsters is 0-2. The two players with the best record from each group advance to the semi-finals, which are single-elimination.

Federer in red group, Nadal in gold

SHANGHAI: Defending champion Roger Federer was grouped together with Guillermo Coria, Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian for preliminary play in the season-ending Masters Cup. No 2 Rafael Nadal was drawn into the other group, gold, and will play Andre Agassi, Nikolay Davydenko and Gaston Gaudio in the round-robin stage.

The top two players from each group advance to the semi-finals of the November 13-20 event.

Places at the Cup are awarded to the leaders of the ATP’s season race, although three of the top players have withdrawn.

Andy Roddick of the US and Russia’s Marat Safin pulled out with injuries. Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt decided to remain with his pregnant wife, Rebecca Cartwright, who is due to give birth to the couple’s first child. — AP