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Mauresmo injury scare ahead of Aussie Open

FORMER No. 1-ranked Amelie Mauresmo hopes to be fit for the Australian Open despite withdrawing from her Brisbane International semifinal with a thigh injury yesterday, putting fellow Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli into the final.

Fifth-seeded Mauresmo, who beat top-seeded Ana Ivanovic in straight sets in an upset result the previous evening, was trailing 0-4 in the opening set when she called for a trainer at the sixth deuce of her third service game.

She received treatment to her left thigh and lower back and retired without playing another point.

"Even though it's frustrating and it's not how you want to end a tournament, I guess it's more reasonable to make sure I'm 100 percent for Melbourne," she said.

Mauresmo is a doubtful starter for the Sydney International next week, her last scheduled tuneup event for the Australian Open, which starts on January 19.

The 29-year-old Mauresmo, the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, has had a string of injuries over the past two years which has seen her ranking slip to 24.

Bartoli, a surprise Wimbledon finalist in 2007 and seeded third here, will play second-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in today's final. Azarenka beat Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-1 in the other semifinal yesterday.

In quarterfinal men's play, Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic beat Swede Robin Soderling 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 and Richard Gasquet defeated No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

In India, third-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic rediscovered his rhythm when it mattered most to shut out Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 to enter the semifinals of the Chennai Open yesterday.

World No. 27 Cilic recovered after being blanked in the second set to win in just over two hours against a feisty opponent ranked 20 places lower. The big-serving Croatian, who pounded 11 aces and 26 winners, will meet Spaniard Marcel Granollers in the last-four stage today.

Eighth-seeded Granollers beat Czech wildcard Lukas Dlouhy 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Fifth-seeded German Rainer Schuettler also made it to the semifinals, ousting compatriot Bjorn Phau 6-2, 7-5.

In Doha, top-ranked Rafael Nadal was eliminated from the Qatar Open on Thursday, losing to Gael Monfils of France 4-6, 4-6 in the quarterfinals.

Nadal, who cruised through his first two matches at the season-opening event, was broken twice in the first set and once in the second, and finished the match with only 10 winners. Monfils had 35.

"He played better than me. That's what happened," the Spaniard said. "I had my chances but he was serving really well. Maybe I need more time on court. I played two matches in Abu Dhabi and three here, which is good."

Nadal lost to fourth-ranked Andy Murray last week.

Second-ranked Roger Federer and Murray advanced to the semifinals, however. Federer beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (6), and Murray defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal however remains optimistic of his chances at the Australian Open.

"There is still 1? weeks to go for the Australian Open," said Nadal. "I am not playing any event anywhere now. I will practice here and I fly out to Australia on Sunday. I will not go with any bad feeling with this loss. I am playing well. I just need more matches."


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