Maleeva beats ailing Williams in Nice
semifinals Click here for more on this story Posted: Saturday February 17, 2001
11:51 AM Updated: Saturday February 17, 2001 3:23 PM Magdalena Maleeva of
Bulgaria hits a backhand to Venus Williams. AP NICE, France (AP) -- With her
knee ailing and the fire in her game gone, Venus Williams was ousted in straight
sets by Magdalena Maleeva in the semifinals of the Terazura Open on Saturday.
Maleeva, an unseeded Bulgarian, won 7-6 (8), 6-4, with the top-seeded Williams
double faulting twice in the final game. "I've had a rough week," Williams said.
"It's too bad. I'm glad it's finished." Maleeva will face Amelie Mauresmo of
France in Sunday's final of the $565,000 tournament. "I didn't think I could
play like that," said Maleeva, who will be playing her first final of the year.
Mauresmo, seeded seventh, beat Anke Huber of Germany 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the other
semifinal. Mauresmo defeated Huber in the Gaz de France final less than a week
ago for her first title in France. Williams, ranked No. 3 in the world, was
playing her second tournament of the year. She made it to the semifinals of the
Australian Open last month. In the second set, she strained her right knee and a
bandage was placed above her right kneecap. "I don't think it affected the
outcome of the match," Williams said. "It just wasn't my day." After her knee
was treated, Williams rallied briefly in the second set, breaking serve to lead
4-3. But Maleeva broke straight back, and from then on Williams fizzled.
"Everything can be improved, and I'll come out better the next time, that's all
I can do," said Williams, the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion. She
said she has fully recovered from the anemia that forced her to pull out of the
Chase Championships at the end of last season. "I definitely feel physically 100
percent, besides the knee," said Williams, adding her knee was fine before
Saturday's match. Williams opened strongly, breaking Maleeva's first service
game and streaking through her own. But she then made repeated unforced errors,
and Maleeva broke back in the fifth game. Williams had three set points in the
10th game but Maleeva kept her serve. Williams lost another two set points in
the tiebreaker before Maleeva won the set with an ace. Williams had tough
second-round and quarterfinal matches, all against unseeded players. Maleeva, at
No. 20, was her highest-ranked opponent. This was Maleeva's second straight big
victory following a 6-3, 6-3 win over fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia
in the quarters.