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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 14:36 GMT
Henin & Mauresmo in Madrid final
Justine Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne reached all four Grand Slam finals in 2006
Justine Henin-Hardenne beat Maria Sharapova to reach the final of the WTA Championships in Madrid and guarantee the year-end world number one ranking.

The Belgian dominated from the outset, breaking serve immediately and battling through to a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) win.

Amelie Mauresmo beat Kim Clijsters 6-2 3-6 6-3 in the second semi-final.

Sharapova went into the match on a 19-match winning streak and knowing she had to win the title to take the number one ranking from Mauresmo.

Henin-Hardenne had to beat Sharapova and reach the final to take top spot.

I'm number one but I still want to win this tournament

Justine Henin-Hardenne

Sharapova was the only player to win all three round-robin matches and was the favourite to beat Henin-Hardenne, who is playing her first event since the US Open.

But the Russian looked out of sorts from the start of their semi-final, failing to find any rhythm on her groundstrokes.

Henin-Hardenne grabbed two breaks of serve and, although Sharapova got one back, she could not save the set.

The match looked all but over when Henin-Hardenne converted her fifth break point in a dramatic eighth game of the second set, but she failed to serve out the match.

Amelie Mauresmo
Hopefully Justine will party tonight with her number one ranking

Amelie Mauresmo

It came down to a tie-break and successive Sharapova errors gave Henin-Hardenne two match points, the second of which she converted.

"It's amazing, I'm very happy," said Henin-Hardenne. "I'm very happy with the way I handled the pressure today.

"The season is not over yet. I'm number one but I still want to win this tournament."

Sharapova said: "I just didn't feel like myself today. I felt a little sluggish. I didn't feel like I was concentrating.

"You hope to find a way to break through that, and I felt like I was getting there at the end of the match, but I just couldn't put two or three good points together."

In the second semi-final, Mauresmo broke Clijsters in the eighth game of the third set when the Belgian challenged a baseline call that went against her.

Mauresmo served out for the win to set up a rematch with Henin-Hardenne, who she beat on Friday to advance to the last four.

606 DEBATE: Who do you think will take the title?

"It's the last match of the year and obviously it's great to have Justine and I in a final again," said Mauresmo.

"Hopefully she'll party tonight with her number one ranking."

SEE ALSO
Henin is number one - Sharapova
11 Nov 06 |  Tennis
Sharapova maintains winning run
10 Nov 06 |  Tennis
Mauresmo under threat in Madrid
06 Nov 06 |  Tennis


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