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Henin crosses the first big hurdle

sports Updated: Jan 20, 2010 23:48 IST

Reuters
Highlight Story

Justine Henin passed the first serious test in her comeback to the Australian Open when she defeated Russia's Elena Dementieva 7-5 7-6 on Wednesday in a high quality match of unrelenting tension.

The Belgian, a wildcard entry as she does not even have a ranking yet, dispelled any doubts about whether she can mix it with the best after coming out of retirement with a performance reminiscent of when she was world No. 1.

Fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro also provided a reminder of the fighting qualities that enabled the towering Argentine to topple Roger Federer in last year's U.S. Open final when he beat American James Blake 6-4 6-7 5-7 6-3 10-8.

Rafa Nadal erased any lingering concerns about his fitness with an effortless 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Slovakia's Lukas Lacko that brought a rare smile to the face of the number two seed after a year plagued by injuries and self doubt.

Kim Clijsters, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina had no problems booking spots in the third round of the women's draw while Andy Roddick and Andy Murray did likewise in the men's.

Henin was inspired by compatriot Clijsters's fairytale win at last year's U.S. Open to make a comeback and said Wednesday's victory over the world number five vindicated her decision.

Clijsters, who took a two-year break before returning to the sport last August, was given an easier workout by Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn and was able to raise her game when necessary in a 6-3 6-3 victory while Kuznetsova beat fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-2.

Minor stumble

Safina, last year's runner-up, overcame a minor stumble when serving for the match in her 6-3, 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

The world number two is in the bottom quarter, safely away from the Belgians, Russians and Williams sisters.

Danish fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki made a belated start to her campaign at Melbourne Park, defeating Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak in a first-round match that was shuffled back because of rain on the opening day.

Roddick eased to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci but the match ended on a sour note when the American argued with the chair umpire over a line call in the final game, risking the possibility of a fine for foul language. He later regretted his behaviour.

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