Mauresmo has an eye on top spot

Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo moved one round closer to the Nasdaq-100 Open title—and the number-one ranking—by beating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Montenegro 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Mauresmo, who spent five weeks at number one last year, can regain the top ranking if she wins the tournament and beats a top-five player in one of her final two matches. Lindsay Davenport, who skipped the hard-court tournament to protect her troublesome knees, has been number one since October.

“Of course I would love to get it back,” Mauresmo said. “But having had it once, it’s pretty different.
My goals are somewhere else. Doing well in these big events is today more important to me.”

Mauresmo’s opponent on Thursday will be the winner of the last quarterfinal between fifth-ranked Elena Dementieva and unseeded Kim Clijsters.

Number nine Venus Williams, a three-time Key Biscayne champion, will play number three Maria Sharapova in the other semifinal. Williams advanced on Tuesday by ending a streak of six consecutive losses to her sister, beating Serena 6-1, 7-6 (8).

Unseeded David Ferrer of Spain became the first men’s semifinalist by sweeping number 26 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia 6-2, 6-3. In the quarterfinals on Thursday, number one Roger Federer will play number six Tim Henman, and number 31 Taylor Dent will play six-time champion Andre Agassi, seeded ninth.

Mauresmo won the first five games and nine of the first 10 against Ivanovic, slowed by hamstring and ankle injuries and looking nervous in her first tier-one quarterfinal. The 17-year-old committed 34 unforced errors, double-faulted five times, and won only three of 17 points on her second serve.

Before this year, Mauresmo won only four matches at Key Biscayne in three appearances. She’s 18-4 in 2005 and seeking her second title of the year.

“Since the tournament started, I feel like I’m playing better and better,” she said. “The first set-and-a-half today was the best. But also she was giving me some free points. I didn’t have to work too hard for the first nine or 10 games.”

Ivanovic, who began the year ranked 97th, will move into the top 50 next week for the first time. She upset US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round.

“I am pretty happy,” Ivanovic said. “But there are so many things I have to still improve.”

Ferrer came to Key Biscayne with a 5-8 record this year, but the Spaniard beat former number one Juan Carlos Ferrero in the fourth round and needed barely an hour to eliminate Hrbaty. The Slovakian had seven double faults and 41 unforced errors.

Ferrer’s 23rd birthday is Saturday, the day before the men’s final.

“If I win,” he said, “drinks are on me.”—Sapa-AP

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