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Henin beats Serena, reach semis

Henin won another battle in her bitter rivalry with Serena to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, London
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2007 01:03 AM IST

Justine Henin won another battle in her bitter rivalry with Serena Williams to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory which took her a step closer to clinching the only Grand Slam title to elude her.

The Belgian top seed won for the seventh time in 11 career meetings against the double Wimbledon champion and will face French 18th seed Marion Bartoli for a place in what would be her third final.

"I'm happy to come through. It was a good fight," said Henin who had demolished Williams on her way to a fourth French Open title in June.

"She serves hard and I was returning well when she was hitting serves at 115mph or 120mph."

Williams, the American seventh seed, arrived on court with her left calf still bandaged, a legacy of her injury-hit win over Daniela Hantuchova in the previous round but neither her ability nor movement were restricted as she fired a drive straight at Henin on the opening point.

Henin said that Williams looked to be fully fit.

"I didn't see her having a lot of trouble," said the Belgian. "She was serving well and moving strongly."

Serve dominated the opening set until Henin broke through in the ninth game with a sweetly-timed backhand lob which left Williams stranded at the net.

A smart Henin volley secured the set in the 10th game after 34 minutes on court.

Williams engineered a break to lead 4-2 in the second set but handed back the initiative immediately with Henin, mixing baseline power and a deft touch at the net, breaking straight back.

But the American bounced back as her seventh ace of the match evened the tie although it needed the reassurance of the Hawkeye system before the game and set was called.

It was the first set Henin had dropped at the tournament.

As the light on another rain-affected day on Centre Court got worse, it was Henin who was finishing the stronger, breaking in the second and sixth games to go to 5-1.

Admirably, Williams then called on her famed fighting spirit to thwart Henin's attempt to serve for the match and broke back before holding to trail 3-5.

Williams managed to save one match point when Henin dumped a backhand volley into the net but she then hit long on the second match point to give Henin victory after a 1hr 45min tussle.

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