Henin outlasts Jankovic, Safina crashes out at Stuttgart

Justine Henin rallied to raise her perfect record against Jelena Jankovic to 10-0 with a 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 quarter-final victory at the Porsche Grand Prix tennis.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Stuttgart
UPDATED ON MAY 01, 2010 11:29 AM IST

Justine Henin rallied to raise her perfect record against Jelena Jankovic to 10-0 with a 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 quarter-final victory at the Porsche Grand Prix tennis.

Henin, who came out of retirement this year, prevailed in two hours and 22 minutes in the match of former world number-one players and Stuttgart champions in Stuttgart on Friday night.

Australia's Samantha Stosur went to 10-0 on clay this year by beating China's Li Na 6-3, 6-3 and is the last seed standing at number seven.

Fourth-seed Jankovic bowed out, and number two Dinara Safina as well, 6-3, 6-2, against Israel's Shahar Peer.

In the semis, Henin meets birthday girl Peer, who turns 23 Saturday. Stosur plays Russian qualifier Anna Lapushchenkova, who ousted Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7-1), 1-6, 6-1 and at number 138 is the lowest-ranked player ever to reach the semis in Stuttgart.

Playing only her fifth tournament since coming out of retirement in January, the Belgian Henin dropped serve in the sixth game to lose the first set against Serbia's Jankovic.

But Henin raised her game and battled back, taking the second set in the tiebreak after squandering an early 3-1 lead, and then won the last four games from 3-2 down in the third.

"I don't know how I did it," she said. "It's a kind of match you love to win. I was a bit concerned in the third set (after losing a 2-0 lead)."

Looking ahead at the French Open she has won four times, Henin tried to temper expectations: "I still need matches ahead of the French. ... (But) I grew up on this surface and my best memories are on this surface."

Jankovic said: "It was a good match overall. Maybe I was a little unlucky at crucial times. It was a little frustrating. In the third set my serve went off, I got physically tired, and that decided it in the end."

Safina, also a former number one, was playing only her second match after a three-month absence due to a lower-back injury, less than 20 hours after a tough three-setter in the second round after a first-round bye.

Peer, who upset fifth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in the previous round, broke Safina in the eighth game to decide the first set and then won the last five games from 2-1 down in the second, wrapping up matters with a forehand winner in one hour and 16 minutes.

"Dinara is a good player, but she was playing only her second match. ... I was playing solid but also aggressive," said Peer, who kept her unforced errors to 14, including just three in the second set, to Safina's 27.

Stosur had only seven unforced errors in her dominant showing against Li, on top of winning 83 per cent of her first serves 72 per cent on second serves. Stosur allowed no break points and broke Li three times en route to victory.

Stosur, 26, was a French Open semi-finalist last year and has repeated her strong form on dirt. She won the Charleston title less than two weeks ago, two Fed Cup rubbers last weekend and now has three wins in Stuttgart.

"It was a good match. I didn't realize it was such few errors. That's a good result," Stosur said. "Everything is falling into place. I feel comfortable on the clay."

Stosur will rise one place to a career-high number nine in the next world rankings with the place in the final four, and even higher if she makes the final of the 700,000-dollar indoor event.

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