Henin storms into semi-finals
World No. 1 Justine Henin came out strong to thrash an unknown opponent in Russian Alisa Kleybanova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Proximus Diamond Games here.
Henin, who is competing at home for the first time since a 2003 semi-final appearance at the Sportpaleis, will Saturday play Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky, who profited from ill health against third seed Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 4-6, 4-1.
Hantuchova had to quit with a cold, which she has been carrying for nearly week.
Henin lost serve against Kleybanova, while serving for victory but earned the win a game later, to the delight of a sell-out 13,000-strong crowd.
The top seed has never won a title at home and has played in Belgium only three times on the Women Tennis Association (WTA) tour.
"I didn't know much about my opponent before the match," said Henin. "But I knew it would not be easy.
"You don't get this far without playing well. I was able to improve from my first match and I'm so happy to be in the semi-finals at home."
Meanwhile, after her disappointing outing, Hantuchova said she just could not go on as her strength ebbed from the first few points of the match.
"I can't believe I stayed out there for almost two hours," said the Slovak world No. 8. "I don't know why I waited until the third set to stop.
"I could barely stand on the court and was tired after playing for five seconds."
In fourth seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland Hantuchova found a companion as Italian Karpin Knapp upset the Swiss 6-2, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-2).
Bacinszky will be playing in her first career WTA semi-final when she faces Henin.
The 18-year-old Bacinszky from Lausanne earned her first success over a top 10 player as she beat Hantuchova, who was seen several times on court by a doctor and appeared to be having trouble breathing.
The second set was marked by seven breaks in 10 games, with Bacinszky taking control with a break in the third set before Hantuchova packed it in after just under two draining hours.
"I felt I played a solid match against the number eight," said Bacinszky. "I've been playing well this year, I want to maintain consistency. I came out of qualifications and had nothing to lose."
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