Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi, Israel's top woman player, was beaten 2-6, 2-6 by Italy's Francesca Schiavone yesterday in the quarter-finals of the $585,000 Sydney International.
Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne and Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. both survived injury scares to win their quarter-final matches yesterday. Henin-Hardenne sprained her ankle and needed treatment for blisters before beating American Chanda Rubin 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Davenport strained a shoulder muscle during her 6-3, 6-4 victory over Russia's Elena Dementieva. Both Davenport and Henin-Hardenne said their injuries were not serious and they expected to line up against each other in Friday's semi-finals.
Henin-Hardenne, the world number one and clear favorite to win the Australian Open starting in Melbourne on Monday, took a time-out to receive treatment but said she was more concerned about the blisters on her feet than her ankle.
Amelie Mauresmo of France also booked her place in the last four with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Russia's Anastasia Myskina and will play Schiavone on Friday.
While the results of all four quarter-finals went as expected, Henin-Hardenne was given a torrid workout by seventh seed Rubin. The Belgian was forced into a third set and had to save three break points on serve in the sixth game before eventually sealing victory.
Davenport, seeded fifth for the Australian Open, said she might have to wind down her preparations after her injury scare.
The former world number one has been playing as much as possible after undergoing foot surgery in October. She helped the U.S. win the Hopman Cup in Perth last week and has been playing singles and doubles in Sydney.
"It's been good for me, I needed the training and match preparation but now I think I just need to taper back a little bit before Melbourne," she said.
All of the Israeli competitors yesterday advanced to the second round of the qualifying matches for next week's Australian Open. Harel Levy defeated Frenchman Slimane Saoudi of France 6-2, 7-5 and will face Florian Mayer of Germany on the second round.
Noam Okun won the battle against Sweden's Bjorn Rehnquist 7-6, 1-6, 7-5 and will move on to face Jiri Vanek of the Czech Republic.
Amir Hadad moved directly to the second round of play after his Dutch opponent Peter Wessels withdrew from the competition. Hadad will play in the second round against Italy's Stefano Pescosolido.
In the women's qualifiers, Israel's Tzipora Obziler defeated Ukraine's Elena Tatarkova in a closely fought match, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5, and will face Elise Tamaela of the Netherlands in the next round.
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