Kuznetsova stuns Henin-Hardenne

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/j/justinehenin2.jpg' class='caption'> World number one Justine Henin-Hardenne is beaten by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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World number one Justine Henin-Hardenne was beaten for the first time this year in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open in Doha on Friday by Russian teenager Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kuznetsova, who had lost all four of their previous meetings, reached her second consecutive final with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the Belgian in just under two hours. A steamy Friday night at the Khalifa Tennis Complex, with fog rolling across court, was hardly the most ideal conditions for world number one Justine Henin-Hardenne and Svetlana Kuznetsova to play their semi-final in the US$ 600-thousand Qatar Open. It certainly seemed to upset the Belgian, who conceded the first set 6-2 in just 22 minutes to her 18 year-old Russian opponent. But the holder of the French, US and Australian Open crowns rallied in the second set, breaking in the seventh game following an inch-perfect lob and holding serve in the tenth to level the match at one set all. The decider began with the Belgian breaking in the first game, then the third and the fifth. But Kuznetsova replied with three breaks of her own and then crucially held serve in the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. The pressure was on Henin-Hardenne to hold her own serve, but an easy forehand winner at the net on break point was missed and Kuznetsova moved to 5-3. Minutes later, it was all over. Another mistimed forehand - normally the most potent weapon in the Belgian's armoury - brought the match to an end and Kuznetsova had won 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in just under two hours. It was the first time the Russian had beaten Henin-Hardenne in five attempts and Henin-Hardenne's first reverse after seventeen matches in 2004. In fact it was back in November 2003 that the Belgian suffered her last defeat, to Amelie Mauresmo of France in the last four of the WTA Tour Championships. Kuznetsova was understandably delighted - the win was sweet revenge for her defeat last week at the hands of Henin-Hardenne in the final of the Dubai Open. She'll now go head to head with compatriot Anastasia Myskina, after the defending champion brushed aside the number two seed Jennifer Capriati 6-2, 6-2. (AP)

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