Mauresmo Keeps Title Hopes Alive in Brisbane
Published January 07, 2009 12:00
BRISBANE, Australia - It took her nearly three-and-a-quarter hours, but fifth seed Amélie Mauresmo kept her title hopes alive at the Brisbane International on Wednesday, saving three match points against compatriot Julie Coin along the way. Her opponent in the last eight will be top seed Ana Ivanovic, who also flirted with disaster in the evening session before suppressing Roberta Vinci.
As youngsters, two-time Grand Slam champion Mauresmo and Coin, 26, actually had the same coach in France. But their careers have taken very different paths: Coin honed her skills in the US college system before graduating to the ITF circuit with occasional forays onto the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. As such, Mauresmo arrived on the Rafter Arena as the firm favorite to win their second round match.
The former world No.1 had pause for caution, however. The last time the pair played was in the third round of the 2008 US Open, after Coin had established herself as an unexpected giant killer by stunning Ivanovic. On that occasion Mauresmo won 64 64, but today it was clear from the start that the previously unheralded Coin had learnt a thing or two from the experience.
After Mauresmo recovered from a 2-5 final set deficit the intriguing all-court affair came down to an epic tie-break, which extended to no fewer than 23 points. Mauresmo squandered her first match point by double faulting at 6-4, failed to convert three more and also fought off three match points to the world No.95. But when Coin sliced a backhand long, the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion was through, 57 62 76(11).
"You know, I really don't know what to say," said the 29-year-old of the longest match of her career. "I'm just glad that I won it because it would have really been the 'missed-occasions match' if I didn't. That's the good and positive point for today. Other than that it's a lot of ups and downs and frustration because I was not able to make the difference when I was supposed to and I had so many break points and was not able to convert them."
"Last time when I played her I was kind of nervous because it was her," said Coin, who only gained entry to the main draw as a lucky loser when Maria Kirilenko withdrew due to illness. "When I was younger she was an idol. This time I tried to take more risks and play my game. And it almost worked out."
Ivanovic also had to survive match points - two of them - against qualifier Vinci. In a see-saw contest, the Italian raced to a 5-3 opening set lead, only to see Ivanovic force a tie-break. But the Serb couldn't keep the momentum, and soon found herself down a set and a break. Vinci, currently ranked No.80 in the world and 20cm shorter than Ivanovic, held the match points in the 10th game but was unable to capitalize; after Ivanovic broke for 6-5 she gathered steam and overpowered Vinci in the final set for a 67(4) 75 61 result.
The longest match of the day was won by another Italian, Sara Errani, who also toiled for a come-from-behind win against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria. The world No.41's reward for her 67 (3) 75 63 victory, which took more than three-and-a-half hours, is a last-eight match-up against Olga Govortsova, who beat qualifier Sesil Karantantcheva, 60 57 75.
Three of the four seeded doubles teams lost on Wednesday. Cara Black and Liezel Huber, the No.1 seeds, were upset by Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama, while No.3 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Francesca Schiavone gave a walkover to the Polish duo of Alicja Rosolska and Klaudia Jans, and fourth seeds Sun Tiantian and Yan Zi fell to Mervana Jugic-Salkic and Peng Shuai.
All four singles quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, with second seed Azarenka facing Lucie Safarova, and third seed Marion Bartoli taking on Tathiana Garbin - in addition to Ivanovic versus Mauresmo and Errani against Govortsova.