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World Sport

Henin-Hardenne reaches semifinals


SPECIAL REPORT
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- World No 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium overcame France's Mary Pierce 6-4 6-4 to set up an Olympic semifinal with French Open champion Anastasia Myskina.

French second seed Amelie Mauresmo overcame stubborn Russian fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 4-6 6-2 and plays Australia's Alicia Molik for the other final place.

Henin-Hardenne, who has spent most of the year battling a debilitating virus, broke Pierce once in each set to win in 70 minutes

"Obviously, I'm pleased with the way I have been playing. But I'm not looking too far ahead," said the 22-year-old Belgian.

Russian third seed Myskina trounced Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-1 6-2.

Molik, who captured her second career title last week in Stockholm, powered her way into the semifinals with a 6-3 6-4 win over Japan's Ai Sugiyama.

The Australian beat Mauresmo 7-5 3-6 6-3 in the second round in the San Diego tour event three weeks ago after losing to her in the Australian Open in January.

"I'm not surprised she's got this far," Mauresmo said of Molik. "She was really solid at San Diego but I'm pleased to have another shot at her."

The 23rd-ranked Molik has now defeated three of the world's top 15 players in the last three weeks.

And she was ready for Mauresmo.

"I'm on a roll now. I'm feeling pretty good. I've got to go out and be aggressive, hit the ball, hit my serves, run with what's working," she said.

And a gold medal? "Yeah, absolutely."

The loser of the semifinals plays in the bronze medal match.

Chile challenge

The Olympic men's singles semifinals will be a Chile versus United States affair after two Chileans and two Americans negotiated Thursday's quarterfinals.

Nicolas Massu and fellow Chilean Fernando Gonzalez marched into the last four where they will play Taylor Dent and Mardy Fish respectively Friday for a place in the final.

Massu ousted third seed Carlos Moya of Spain 6-2 7-5 while Gonzalez progressed into the semis with a 6-2 2-6 6-4 victory over eighth seed Sebastien Grosjean of France.

Dent enjoyed a 6-4 6-1 victory over Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, while Fish was a 6-3 6-4 winner over Mikhail Youzny of Russia.

Massu and Gonzalez meanwhile reached the final of the men's doubles with a 7-5 4-6 6-4 semifinal victory over Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.

Their opponents for the gold medal will be German duo Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schuettler who made surprisingly light work of Indian specialists Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes 6-2 6-3 in just 66 minutes.

Martina Navratilova's hopes of winning an Olympic tennis medal on her Games debut at the age of 47 ended with a quarterfinal defeat in the women's doubles.

Navratilova and American partner Lisa Raymond went down 6-4 4-6 6-4 to the Japanese duo Shinobu Assagoe and Ai Sugiyama.

Making up the last four are Paola Suarez/Patricia Tarabini (Argentina), Li Ting/Sun Tian-Tian (China) and Conchita Martinez/Virginia Ruano Pascual (Spain).


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