Unseeded Puerta advances to final


Paris, June 3:

Unseeded Argentine Mariano Puerta wore down Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the French Open final at Roland Garros on Friday. Both players were playing in their first grand slam semi-final and it turned out to be war of attrition between two of the game’s most consistent claycourt grinders. Puerta muscled his way to the first set but 12th seed Davydenko, who turned 24 on Thursday, seized the initiative when he came back to take the next two with pinpoint hitting. The Argentine hung on grimly in the fourth to set up a decider and then recovered from 4-2 down in the fifth before clinching victory with a thunderous forehand after three hours 29 minutes. The match was delayed for 90 minutes due to rain delay. Puerta will now face the winner of the other semi-final match between world number one Roger Federer and fourth seed Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Davenport still No 1

PARIS: Lindsay Davenport came up short at the French Open, but she’s still No 1. When the new WTA rankings come out on Monday, Davenport will retain the top slot despite her loss in the quarters at the French Open. No 2 Maria Sharapova needed to reach the final to overtake Davenport. She lost in the quarters to Justine Henin-Hardenne. Henin, who won her semi-final, will jump five slots to No 7 regardless of how she fares in the final against Mary Pierce.

Nadia Petrova moves up one spot to No 8. Pierce, who beat Elena Likhovtseva in the semis, moves from No 23 to No 11 if she wins the final, and No 13 if she loses. Pierce will crack the top 20 for the first time since June 2001. Likhovtseva, who reached semi-finals, moves to No 15, up from 19th.

Impossible is Nothing

PARIS: When Justine Henin-Hardenne told a press conference ‘Impossible is Nothing’, it became a phrase which launched thousands of advertising posters and sold countless trainers. But beating the odds is second nature to the Belgian who sets her sights on a second French Open title when she takes on Mary Pierce in Saturday’s final. She reached final with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Russia’s Nadia Petrova, and the win came just a day after her 23rd birthday. Henin has endured three-set marathons in three of her six rounds and had to save two match points to get past Svetlana Kuznetsova in the round of 16. Those examinations have led to problems with her back, but she is determined to dig out one last effort against Pierce to whom she has never lost.