Henin-Hardenne breezes through US opener

FIVE-TIME Grand Slam winner Justine Henin-Hardenne’s march towards reclaiming her US Open title began in earnest on Monday as she cruised past Maria Elena Camerin 6-2, 6-1 in an opening round match yesterday.

The reigning French Open champion made quick work of Camerin, taking just 74 minutes to dispatch the Italian at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Henin-Hardenne, the 2003 US Open champion, is an impressive 44-6 heading into the final Grand Slam of the season.

“I feel good. This is the first year since 2003 that I’m playing the four Grand Slams in the season,” Henin-Hardenne said. “I did pretty well even though I was a bit tired at the start of the match.

“I’ve been very consistent from the beginning of the season.”

On the men’s side, the 2003 US Open champ Andy Roddick also breezed into the next round with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory over France’s Florent Serra.

Henin-Hardenne advances to the second round where she will face American Vania King who beat Australia’s Alicia Molik 6-3, 6-2 on Monday.

The second-seeded 24-year-old Belgian had more winners (24-3) than Camerin and won 67% of her first serve points and 82% of her second serve points.

“In the second set I started to feel better and I served well,” said Henin-Hardenne, who leads the tour in winning percentage this season.

“I’ve was never really under pressure so I could control the match. I am happy to have this kind of match for a first round.”

Roddick, who won his first tournament of the season last week in Cincinnati, unleashed a 238kph (148mph) serve and fired 10 aces as he routed Serra.

Roddick won in a 75 minutes and advances to the second round where to face the winner of Spain’s Alberto Martin and Kristian Pless of Denmark.

Elsewhere Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama overpowered Czech Zuzana Ondraskova 6-1, 6-0, Israel’s Shahar Peer stopped Russian Vasilisa Bardina 6-2, 6-2 and Vera Zvonareva, of Russia, defeated Poland’s Marta Domachowska 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

In the men’s singles, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic rallied to beat young American Donald Young 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 and unseeded Mikhail Youzhny, of Russia, eliminated 19th seed Dominik Hrbaty 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.

Taking the court later in the evening was eight-time major title winner Andre Agassi in his final appearance on the circuit, Ivan Ljubicic, 2004 women’s Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva.

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