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Henin-Hardenne back to form at US Open tune-up

The Belgian returned from injury and began her bid for her first New Haven title with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Garrigues.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 12:37 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne returned from injury and began her bid for her first New Haven titleon Wednesday with a straight sets win over Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues.

The 24-year-old two-time French Open champion showed no signs of the knee injury that kept her out for more than a month, applying steady, unrelenting pressure onto her opponent and defeating Medina Garrigues 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and twenty-six minutes.

"It was a tough match," Henin-Hardenne said.

"But it was good for me. Its exactly the kind of match I could get some rhythm back.

"I played very well on the important points. I didn't have many ups and downs. My knee was feeling all right.

"I need to work on a few more things before the Open,' added the third-ranked Belgian, who fired six aces and committed four double faults.

"I just have to play aggressive and keep my intensity. When I do that, Im a total different player."

The diminutive Henin-Hardenne is now slated to meet Italian lucky-loser Mara Santangelo, who earned her berth for the quarter finals when Chinas Li Na pulled out because of a right ankle sprain.

In other matches, defending champion Lindsay Davenport set up a quarterfinal clash with World No.1 Amelie Mauresmo for a repeat of last years final.

The 30-year-old Davenport ruthlessly disposed of Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-2 while the 27-year-old Frenchwoman came from behind to post a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 triumph over little-known Russian Galina Voskoboeva.

"Ive always loved playing against her, Davenport said.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for her. I was so happy when she broke through and won those Slams. She proved the nay-sayers wrong.

The US veteran is 11-3 lifetime against the Frenchwoman, having won 10 of their last encounters. The last time Mauresmo had beaten her rival dates back to the WTA Sydney final in 2000

Yet, she can't explain why her game matches up well against her rivals.

"It just works out that way,' said the 11th-ranked three-time Grand Slam champion, on the comeback trail after missing most of the season due to a back injury.

"Each time I played against her, I tried to go for my shots, play deep. Obviously, shes now a totally different player having won Grand Slams. Shell have more confidence coming in."

Also on Wednesday, No.5 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia was the biggest casualty of the day, sent crashing by Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in a wildly fluctuating match.

On the mens side, Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, seeded third, tumbled out of the tournament, falling to Swedens Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-7 (7/3), 7-5.

Chilean Nicolas Massu farewelled Finlands Jarkko Nieminen, the No.4 seed, and Russian second-seeded Nikolay Davydenko secured his quarter final berth with a 6-4, 6-1 whitewash of Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan.

First Published: Aug 24, 2006 11:38 IST