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tennisIlove09
May 2nd, 2004, 11:17 PM
Tier I Action Heats Up in Berlin

BERLIN - Tier I action on the WTA Tour heats up again this week as the stars of women's tennis make their way to Berlin for the Ladies German Open.

Two-time defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne will miss this year's event due to an illness that forced her withdrawal from Charleston and also forced her to miss next week's event in Rome.

However, a Belgian will still be the top seed in the event as Kim Clijsters makes her return to WTA Tour action after missing the last seven weeks with a left wrist injury. Clijsters played her first competitive tennis last weekend, helping Belgium to a victory in Fed Cup play against Croatia.

Clijsters was the runner-up to Henin-Hardenne at last year's event, falling to her countrywoman in three sets. She will be making her fourth consecutive appearance at the tournament and will face either qualifiers Maria Elena Camerin or Marta Marrero in the second round.

2001 champion Amelie Mauresmo is the No.2 seed this week and looking for her first title of the year. Mauresmo was runner-up at Amelia Island and fell in the quarterfinals last week in Warsaw to Francesca Schiavone. She'll face either Gisela Dulko or qualifier Michaela Pastikova in the second round.

Perhaps the hottest player on clay right now, Venus Williams, will be the No.3 seed in Berlin and looking to continue her 11-match winning streak. Williams has won titles in Charleston and Warsaw and is looking to add Berlin to that list in her second appearance at the event. Williams last played here in 2001, where she lost to Henin-Hardenne in the third round.

Williams will face either qualifier Tatiana Golovin or Eleni Daniilidou in her second round match.

Anastasia Myskina will be playing on the Tour for the first time since losing to Henin-Hardenne in the semifinals at Indian Wells. Myskina, the No.4 seed this week, had been hampered by a left toe strain before making her return to play last weekend at Moscow in Fed Cup action. She'll face either Tina Pisnik or qualifier Jelena Kostanic in the second round.

No.6 seed Jennifer Capriati owns a 20-8 match record in Berlin, but has never been able to walk away with the title. She reached the final in 2001 before losing to Mauresmo and has made it to at least the semifinals in five of eight appearances. She'll begin her ninth attempt at the title in the second round when she takes on either wildcard Julia Schruff or qualifier Meilen Tu.

The is the 24th edition of the Ladies German Open, which was first played in 1981. Steffi Graf won the event a record nine times. Other multiple titles winners are Chris Evert, Conchita Martinez and Justine Henin-Hardenne, who have each won the title twice.