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Henin stays on track for 4th title

Defending champion Justine Henin overcame a first-set wobble to cruise past Austrian 16-year-old Tamira Paszek on Wednesday.

sports Updated: May 31, 2007 15:19 IST
Martyn Herman

Defending champion Justine Henin overcame a first-set wobble to cruise past Austrian 16-year-old Tamira Paszek at the French Open on Wednesday.

The world number one, bidding for a fourth title in Paris in five years, threw away a 5-0 lead in the opener and was held up by a rain delay before posting a 7-5 6-1 victory.

"I lost my intensity," she told reporters, explaining her unexpected dip in the first set. "The beginning of the match was exceptional for me, but it was not a real fight.

"I gave her the opportunity to come back into the match and it became difficult for me. There was less intensity and the court became smaller at that moment."

The Belgian re-established superiority over her young opponent and was accelerating to victory when the day's drizzle turned into heavy rain at 3-0 in the second set.

After a 70-minute delay she came back to complete the job, although she said the gloomy weather throughout the claycourt season was beginning to become tiresome.

"Yeah, I hope it's gonna get better in the next few days," she said. "I have the feeling since I started on clay, it's been terrible weather."

Henin, who turns 25 on Friday, faces Italian 28th seed Mara Santangelo in the third round, and is expecting a difficult test. "She's the most atypical player on the tour because she hits the ball very strangely," she said.

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