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tennisIlove09
May 14th, 2003, 06:21 PM
Mauresmo can win on clay everywhere but home

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By Lindsay Berra
ESPN The Magazine


For Amelie Mauresmo, France hasn't been a very hospitable place.


Sure, a tourist who spends hours lost in the maze of streets in Montmartre or seeking for the entrance to an elusive metro stop might feel the same way, but Mauresmo is French. She was born there, grew up there, and plays for the red, white and blue -- the vertical striped one. The country loves her. They support her en masse.

As a 16-year-old junior in 1996, Mauresmo won the French Open and her country beamed. Then, she won Wimbledon. As a pro, she took the titles at the Paris Indoors and Nice in 2001. But since then, nothing in France. Her homeland has become a jinx, the fervent support an extra pressure rather than a comforting release.

As a professional, Mauresmo has never made it past the fourth round of the French Open. In eight appearances, three of her departures have come in the first round and three were in the second. In the past two years, she has lost to two unranked players -- Argentinean Paola Suarez in the fourth round last year and German Jana Kandarr in the first round in 2001.

The French Open is the only Grand Slam event played on clay, Mauresmo's best surface. Clay is the great equalizer -- it makes the super-human power of Venus and Serena Williams manageable for mere mortals. On clay, tennis balls bounce higher and slower, giving Mauresmo time to wind up the long, looping strokes of her huge backhand and forehand. On grass and hard court, where Mauresmo has less time to take her swings, the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Mauresmo often appears awkward and rushed in spite of her obvious athleticism.

But strangely enough, her best success at the Slams has been on other surfaces. She has seen success on the hard courts of the Australian and U.S. Opens and on the grass of Wimbledon. In 1999, she reached the final of the Australian before losing to Martina Hingis. In 2002, she beat Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before running into Serena and Venus Williams, respectively, in the semifinals.

"She's fast around the court and she has good footwork," Capriati said. "She has a good instinct on how to move and when to come in. She reacts well and anticipates well."

At the end of last season, after reaching a career-high ranking of No. 4, Mauresmo suffered cartilage damage in her right knee and was forced to withdraw from the WTA Championships and the Australian Open.

In her first tournament back in February, Mauresmo again lost in Paris, in the finals of the Gaz de France, 6-3, 6-2, to Serena Williams. In spite of a raucous, heavily-biased French crowd, the match took just 64 minutes. But Mauresmo remains positive.

"You often see it that when players come back from injury they are stronger," she said. "When I had the injury I thought I would never come back on the court again. I had a sadness and realized that this was my life, and thought that there was no way that I wanted to give this up."

No Frenchwoman has won the French Open since Francoise Durr did it in 1967. Mauresmo has the skills -- she can slice and spin, she can serve and volley with power. Now, the question is, can she turn home court into an advantage?

Linnie
May 14th, 2003, 06:24 PM
I hope she does well! Thanks for the article! :D

Leena
May 14th, 2003, 06:30 PM
Amelie should play Strasbourg then... no Serena there to beat her 6-1 6-1... and then Amelie has to say some bullshit about how she can beat the Williams'.

YSL
May 14th, 2003, 07:34 PM
Thanks for the article! I hope she does well too :)

jmp
May 14th, 2003, 07:43 PM
Thanks for posting this article, tennisIlove09. I've been pulling for Mauresmo to do well in her home country's tournament for a few years. But, I feel her opportunity may have passed in the 1999-2001 time frame. She's looking good on clay now. So, I wish her the best of luck.

Keith
May 14th, 2003, 08:00 PM
Mary Pierce won it in 2000 and she is French!

tennisIlove09
May 14th, 2003, 09:25 PM
Mary Pierce won it in 2000 and she is French!

Yea, but she's also Canadian and American. The girl has multi-passports.

jenny161185
May 14th, 2003, 11:05 PM
Lol mary is muti national! I hope Amelie does well at the french she seems much more mentally tough