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Justine checks in, Safina makes exit

sports Updated: Jan 25, 2010 00:41 IST

Agencies
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Justine Henin was all class as she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals on a day when Dinara Safina withdrew injured and Svetlana Kuznetsova crashed out to Nadia Petrova.

Henin continued her amazing comeback when she outplayed fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3 Sunday, but it was a very different story for the two Russians.

Second seed Safina pulled out of her match with compatriot Maria Kirilenko when an old back injury flared up with the score at 4-5 in the first set.

Earlier in the day, the third seeded Kuznetsova succumbed to the power of fellow Russian Petrova, who won 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to continue the great form she displayed when destroying Kim Clijsters in the third round.

Jie Zheng beat Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to become the first Chinese to enter Australian Open last eight.

The saddest departure was Safina, whose immediate career is in limbo after a recurrence of the back problems that hindered her late last year.

She was in agony after the match and struggled to hold back tears as she faced the media, describing the latest setback as “really, really terrible”.

Henin's joy at beating Wickmayer was in contrast to the downcast Safina. The Belgian reached the quarterfinals of her first Grand Slam since making a comeback.