Sharapova, Henin win

Madrid, November 8:

Amelie Mauresmo was dealt a blow in her bid to finish the year atop the rankings when she lost to Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-2 in opening round-robin play at the WTA Championships on Tuesday.

Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin-Hardenne improved their chances of claiming the season-ending No 1 ranking with wins.

Henin-Hardenne will knock Mauresmo out of the race for No 1 with another win after her 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1 victory over former champion Martina Hingis. The French Open champion dominated Hingis with her backhand in taking the first set.

Serving at 5-2 in the second set, Henin-Hardenne allowed Hingis to rally by committing 25 unforced errors. Henin-Hardenne broke Hingis three times in the third set on her way to winning the match.

Sharapova broke Dementieva four times to take the first set. Neither player managed to hold convincingly in the second set, and Dementieva’s serve let her down and Sharapova broke her for the seventh time to seal her ninth successive win and a 6-1, 6-4 win.

The 19-year-old Sharapova can finish the year as No 1 should she win her sixth title of 2006 this week and Henin-Hardenne fails to reach the final.