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Hardenne kicks off with win

india Updated: Aug 29, 2006 12:14 IST
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Justine Henin-Hardenne began the US Open with a 74-minute victory over Maria Elena Camerin, eliminating the Italian 6-2, 6-1 as the last of the year's Grand Slams started late and under cloudy skies.

Overnight rain followed by lingering showers held up the start of play for about 90 minutes. The No. 2-seeded Henin-Hardenne, however, broke Camerin early and easily advanced to the second round. Besides matches involving former champion and No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova as well as No. 3 men's seed Ivan Ljubicic, Monday's featured event was a night encounter between Andrei Pavel and eight-time champion Andre Agassi, who will retire following the tournament.

Although temperatures at midday were only about 22 degrees Celsius (72 Fahrenheit), humidity was at 87 percent, typical for late August in New York.

Henin-Hardenne, who has reached the final of all three previous Grand Slams this year including winning the French Open, had 23 unforced errors but capitalized on an opponent who had seven double faults and hit only three winners.

"It was difficult because I didn't hit a single ball on a U.S. Open court. It was raining," Henin-Hardenne said. "It wasn't my best tennis, but it was very good to win that way." Camerin took an injury timeout, leaving the court after the third game of the second set to seek care for what appeared to be a right thigh injury.

No. 28 seed Ai Sugiyama of Japan was the first to reach the second round, taking only 41 minutes to beat the Czech Republic's Zuzana Ondraskova 6-1, 6-0.

Among other early results, American Jill Craybas beat Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-0.

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