Henin overcomes Vaidisova to reach Eastbourne semifinals
EASTBOURNE, England -- World No. 1 Justine Henin brushed aside Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova to reach the semifinals of the Eastbourne International grass-court tournament on Thursday.
Henin, the defending champion at the Wimbledon warmup event, won 6-2, 6-2 in 55 minutes.
Amelie Mauresmo, who will defend her Wimbledon title next week, recovered from a lapse of concentration to beat Israeli sixth seed Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-4.
In Friday's semifinals, Mauresmo will play third seed Nadia Petrova who overcame a back problem and leg cramps in the heat to beat Austrian No. 9 seed Sybille Bammer 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 in a match that lasted just under three hours.
Fifth seed Vaidisova, the youngest player in the draw at 18 and a semifinalist at the Australian Open in January, has a big serve but when that started to let her down she had no other weapons to use against the Belgian top seed.
She found herself down 5-0 within 20 minutes, having held only one game point.
Vaidisova broke Henin as the Belgian served for the first set at 5-1 up but then surrendered her next serve to love.
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Henin, who was soon up 5-2 in the second set, piled on the pressure as she watched Vaidisova's serve become more erratic.
Though the Czech saved one match point she soon gave Henin a second chance thanks to a double fault, then put a backhand into the net to concede the match.
"I was very happy the way I played, and the way I served especially," said Henin, who won her fourth French Open title earlier this month. "My attitude and the way I played tactically was very good and she never really had the time to get a rhythm and really be into the match."
Henin, aiming to win Wimbledon to complete her collection of grand slam titles, will next play eighth seed Marion Bartoli of France who beat Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva 6-1, 6-0 in 71 minutes.
Bartoli, inspired by another straight-sets defeat of Dementieva in the French Open third round earlier this month, put the Russian under relentless pressure from the start.
Dementieva, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year, never looked comfortable, struggling to get her first serve in and hitting eight double faults.
Second-seeded Mauresmo, after taking the first set easily, allowed Peer to break her to go 4-2 up in the second set.
The French world No. 4 four was pleased, however, at the manner of her comeback.
"I lost a little bit of intensity at the beginning of that second set so that she was able to break me and I really focused, concentrated and was able to break her back right away," Mauresmo told a news conference.
World No. 11 Petrova missed last year's grass-court season with a hip injury but was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist two years ago.
The Russian had chances to finish off her match earlier, after going 5-1 up in the deciding set, but Bammer, mother of a five-year-old daughter, saved two match points to hold serve.
Bammer then broke Petrova and held her own serve to pull back to 5-4 but the 24-year-old clung on to win.
"I enjoyed the fight between us," Petrova told reporters. "She is a tough competitor."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report
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