Mauresmo wins WTA C’ships

Los Angeles, November 14:

Amelie Mauresmo always heard the whispers that she caved at key moments in a match and couldn’t string together enough victories to win a major title. Mauresmo hushed such talk with a gutty 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 victory over Mary Pierce in the WTA Championships final on Sunday. She earned $1 million. Mauresmo has always been close and consistent at the Grand Slam events. She was runner-up at the 1999 Australian Open, is a three-time Wimbledon semi-finalist and reached the US Open semis once. Mauresmo double-faulted to trail 0-40 in the final game, but rallied on five consecutive errors by Pierce in the first all-French final of the season-ending tournament.

When Pierce’s cross-court backhand went wide, Mauresmo fell to her knees and clapped her hands to her head as the announced crowd of 9,412 erupted in applause. For more than three hours, the women jerked each other from side to side, punctuated by Mauresmo’s changing speeds and Pierce’s artful drop shots. Just when Pierce thought she’d hit a ball out of reach, Mauresmo would track it down and smack a winner. She got broken to open the third set, then she won three straight games to take a 3-2 lead. Mauresmo won two of the next three games for 4-all.

Pierce was a bundle of nervous tics near the end of the 3-hour, 6-minute match at Staples Centre. Serving at 0-40, she hit her next-to-last winner of the match, a backhand that staved off a second break point. But she pulled a forehand wide to trail 5-4. Pierce held triple break point in the next game, but her slew of errors helped Mauresmo close out the match. Pierce had beaten Mauresmo in a three-setter during round-robin play. Pierce hit 11 more winners, but had a whopping 49 unforced errors. Pierce will end the year at No 5 in the world. Mauresmo, 26, will rise to No 3 when the WTA Tour rankings are released on Monday, behind No 1 Lindsay Davenport and No 2 Kim Clijsters. Lisa Raymond of US and Aussie Samantha Stosur beat top-seed Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Rennae Stubbs of Australia 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4 in the doubles final. The winners split $250,000.