Henin out at Open
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2011
MELBOURNE, Australia ó Justine Henin has been eliminated in the third round of the Australian Open, losing 6-4, 7-6 (8) to Svetlana Kuznetsova on Friday just a year after reaching the final in her comeback to Grand Slam tennis.
It was Heninís first loss in a major to Kuznetsova, the former French and U.S. Open champion, and her worst run at a Grand Slam event since Wimbledon in 2005.
Henin was only weeks into a comeback from a career break from the tour when she lost the final last year to Serena Williams, the third time in four appearances that sheíd reached the championship match at Melbourne. Her comeback season was derailed when she injured her right elbow at Wimbledon and didnít play again in 2010.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner put up quite a fight in this one.
Kuznetsova twice had chances to serve out the match but Henin broke her both times. In a fluctuating tiebreaker, Kuznetsova was ahead 6-4 before Henin sent a service return skidding down the line and took the next point. She netted a forehand to give Kuznetsova another match point at 8-7 but again hit a powerful forehand service return winner.
Henin finally lost when she sent a forehand wide, giving Kuznetsova only her third win in 19 head-to-head meetings.
In the previous match on center court, Caroline Wozniacki beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-3 to avenge last weekís loss in a tuneup tournament.
Then she turned the tables on the media. Hearing sheíd come across as a bit boring in recent interviews, she opened a post-match news conference with a funny monologue, saying she knew what would be asked so sheíd just give her stock answers one-by-one. Then she invited questions on ěmore interestingî topics, such as the piano, cricket, soccer and what sheís looking for in a boyfriend.
Wozniacki, playing her first Grand Slam as the world No. 1, is seeking her first major win.
ěI am happy I got the revenge since I lost to her in Sydney last week; It was not an easy match; She went out there, she was really on fire; You know, Iím happy to be through to the next round,î the 20-year-old Danish player worked through the answers to the usual questions.
French Open champion Francesca Schiavone also moved on, beating Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-0, 7-6 (2). No. 9 Li Na of China, who reached the semifinals here last year before losing in two tiebreak sets against Williams, advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Novak Djokovic only had to play one set in the third round to advance. The 2008 Australian champion was leading Viktor Troicki 6-2 when his Serbian Davis Cup teammate retired due to a stomach muscle strain.
ěItís not really the way you want to win ó especially if youíre playing against one of your best friends,î Djokovic said. ěUnfortunately he wasnít able to play 100 percent of his abilities.î
Djokovic next plays No. 14 Nicolas Almagro, who beat No. 17 Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-3.
Andy Roddick overcame a slow start before powering to victory against Robin Haase, hitting 32 aces in a 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The eighth-seeded Roddick is seeking his second Grand Slam title nearly seven years after his first ó the 2003 U.S. Open.
Haase received treatment on his right ankle early in the first set, getting it heavily taped after appearing to stumble on a shot. The trainer was back out at the end of the set for Haase, who broke Roddickís serve twice.
The Dutchman, despite the injury, made the shot of the tournament so far, chasing down a Roddick lob and hitting a flick backhand over the net while facing the back of the court. Haase won the point two shots later.
ěHe was playing great early on,î Roddick said. ěThe biggest thing was just to turn it around in the second set.î
The Associated Press