Top seed to face Zuluaga in semis

Updated: January 27, 2004, 10:56 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne wore down Lindsay Davenport of the United States 7-5, 6-3, on Tuesday to book her place in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Earlier, fourth-seeded Amelie Mauresmo pulled out of her quarterfinal because of torn back muscles. That put Fabiola Zuluaga into the semis, where she'll face Henin-Hardenne.

Henin-Hardenne lost the opening four games before reeling off seven of the next eight to take the first set in 52 minutes.

"That wasn't easy. Lindsay was playing unbelievable at the start, I wasn't ready for that," Henin-Hardenne said. "I played every point as best I could. I came back in the set and that give me confidence."

Davenport lost only one point in her first two service games but ended with 33 unforced errors as her forehand failed in the long rallies. The loss left Lisa Raymond as the only American woman remaining in the singles event.

Davenport was serving for the first set at 5-3 and had triple set-point against Henin-Hardenne's serve in the 11th game but missed consecutive backhand returns and then floated a forehand shot long.

"I started off playing the match really great, and really attacking balls," she said. "Then the next three, really tough games, I had game points in all of them.

"That's a lot of times when the match turns around. You've got to be able to pull some of those out and I just wasn't able to."

Henin-Hardenne, the French Open and U.S. Open champion, next faces the 32nd-seeded Zuluaga. She got a free pass into the last four when Mauresmo withdrew 90 minutes before their scheduled match.

Mauresmo "is tough to play, but I can beat her," Zuluaga said. "It feels good to be in the semi, but I didn't want it to be this way the first time. I'd rather play matches than have the rest."

Mauresmo was injured while stretching for a backhand volley Sunday against Alicia Molik. Mauresmo had a 10-minute hitting session Tuesday morning with coach Loic Courteau, then tearfully announced she was withdrawing.

"I wanted to try this morning and have a little hit and see how I felt. I have pain. I have to withdraw from this tournament," she said. "When I hit some shots, I can feel really strong pain. The other thing is it could get worse if I play. The best thing to do is to rest."

Courteau said Mauresmo insisted on preparing for the match despite scans showing problems in her back.

"As soon as she went up to the net to volley, it was like a knife thrust in her back," he said.

The top women are still in the draw, with Belgians Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters still in contention, but No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 are out.

Third-seeded Venus Williams was upset in the third round by Raymond, further depleting a draw missing injured defending champion Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati.

Mauresmo and No. 5 Davenport both exited within hours.

Henin-Hardenne had rallied from 1-4 in the third set to win their fourth-round match at Melbourne Park last year.

Davenport, the 2000 Australian Open champion, withdrew from their semifinal in a Sydney warmup tournament earlier this month because of a shoulder problem.

Mauresmo has won 10 tournaments but never a Grand Slam. She lost the final here in 1999 and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all four majors, although she has been plagued by injuries.

"I was playing some good tennis and I had some opportunities in this tournament -- I always play well here," Mauresmo said. "But that's just the way it is, there's nothing to do about it."

Mauresmo lost only six games in her opening three matches here before Molik took her to 7-5, 7-5.

Zuluaga, 25, was off tour for 10 months in 2001 following operations to correct a congenital defect in her right shoulder. She was 2-5 against Mauresmo, including a first-round win at the Sydney Olympics.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press