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Henin, Nadal cruise, Safina crashes to Japanese veteran

While Justin Henin and Rafael Nadal kept their hopes of their fifth French Open titles alive, 24-year old Russian Dinara Safina bowed out to Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm.

sports Updated: May 26, 2010 16:40 IST

Both Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal kept on course for their fifth French Open titles here, but twice-beaten finalist Dinara Safina crashed out to a player who'll be 40 in September.

Henin was appearing at her first Roland Garros since 2007, following her temporary retirement and beat Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-3 yesterday, while Nadal eased past French teenager Gianni Mina 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

However, Russian ninth seed Safina had a day to forget, as the former world number one fell 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 to Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm -- the event's oldest female match-winner since Virginia Wade in 1985.

Men's sixth seed Andy Roddick came through a five-setter to beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4),
6-3 and there were also wins for Lleyton Hewitt and Spanish seeds David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Henin, the number 22 seed, is bidding for her fifth Roland Garros title after stepping away from the game on the eve
of the 2008 tournament.

The 27-year-old Belgian cut short her retirement at the beginning of the year and will now face Czech Klara Zakopalova
in the second round.

"I never expected to be back here again on this court," said Henin after taking her first steps on Court Philippe
Chatrier since she overwhelmed Ana Ivanovic in the 2007 final.

Four-time champion Nadal saw off nine break points against 18-year-old wild card Mina, who was making his Grand
Slam debut, as he breezed into a second-round meeting with Argentina's Horacio Zaballos.

"My goal is always to play my best tennis. I would love to come back here every year as defending champion but that's
impossible," said the Spanish world number two, who lost his title to Roger Federer last year after a fourth-round defeat
against Robin Soderling.

The unexpected star of the day was Date Krumm, a 1995 semi-finalist, who will meet Australian wildcard Jarmila Groth in round two after seeing off a sour-tempered Safina, whose season has been hampered by a lower back injury.

"Three weeks ago I injured my calf and to play against Safina on (Court) Suzanne Lenglen, I was already happy just to
be here," said Krumm, who came back from 4-1 down in the third set despite injuring her calf.

Safina, 24, who was just three when Date Krumm mader her debut here in 1989, committed 17 double faults in the match. "I couldn't work on my serve until I came here. I was serving really good at the beginning but I got tight and lost the motion and that's when I started to make more double faults," she said.

First Published: May 26, 2010 16:35 IST