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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 September, 2003, 04:30 GMT 05:30 UK
Belgians to meet in final
Women's semi-finals - day 12

Justine Henin-Hardenne came through a dramatic semi-final on Friday to set up a clash with fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in the US Open final.

The second seed won a pulsating night match against Jennifer Capriati that brought the Flushing Meadows crowd to life, after Clijsters had earlier brushed aside Lindsay Davenport.

Despite suffering from cramp and trailing 5-2 in the final set, Henin-Hardenne launched an astonishing comeback that ended with a 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7/4) victory.

Capriati was desperate to reach her first US Open final after three times making the semis, and she had plenty of chances.

The American led by a set and 5-3, and then 5-2 in the third, but French Open champion Henin-Hardenne showed all her battling qualities to overcome obvious cramp and take the decisive tie-break.

"I'm so tired, I just gave everything I had - I was cramping," said Henin-Hardenne after the match, which finished at close to 0100 local time.

"I just did my best. It was close. I'm very, very happy. I'm not thinking about the final now, it's very late, I just need a good rest."

Capriati admitted that the defeat hurt more than most.

I served horrendous and couldn't get any momentum
Lindsay Davenport
"When I came off the court I felt like the whole world was coming down on me, like my heart was being ripped out," she said.

"It's pretty hard to put into words after that kind of defeat. I definitely had the match in my hands, it was my match to win. I guess I beat myself."

Clijsters is under pressure to deliver a major title to go with her number one world ranking, but showed no signs of stress as she reached her third Grand Slam final with ease.

Despite taking on a home favourite in Davenport, Clijsters swept through the match 6-2 6-3 in 63 minutes.

"I'm satisfied the way I have played," said Clijsters. "For me, this is the toughest grand slam so far.

"I felt like I have had to be pretty close to my best to get through these matches in two sets. The main reason I have been so consistent is that I'm fighting for every ball."

Watched by her boyfriend Lleyton Hewitt under the floodlights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, Clijsters broke Davenport in the first and last games of the first set to move ahead.

And despite dropping serve to go 2-1 down in the second, the 20-year-old Belgian responded with two breaks of her own to go 5-3 up and serve out the match.

"It's disappointing to come all this way and have a performance like that," said Davenport.

"Some days it just doesn't happen, I served horrendous and couldn't get any momentum."

Links to more US Open 2003 stories


Belgium's Kim Clijsters
"I've been playing well"


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