Henin-Hardenne glad to be back

Justine Henin-Hardenne relishes each triumph these days following her nightmare 2004 when glandular fever kept her out of action for most of the year.

Justine Henin-Hardenne relishes each triumph these days following her nightmare 2004 when glandular fever kept her out of action for most of the year.

The 22-year-old Belgian, who won the French Open in 2003 and became world number one later that season, is trying to return to her best and she remained on course with a come-from-behind victory over Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues today.

Henin-Hardenne prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-3 to set up a last 16 clash with US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“I think this type of match is very satisfying because you really need to go for it,” said Henin-Hardenne, who won the Charleston, Warsaw and Berlin clay-court events this year.

“That’s what I tried to do, I was never discouraged. It’s very positive.

“That was a match I really needed to go out and win. She pushed me a lot and I am very happy that I won this one.

“It was exceptional tennis, much better than what I have been showing over the past few weeks.”

Henin-Hardenne, who was wearing a bandage on her right leg, will face Kuznetsova on Sunday.

When asked about the leg, she said: “This is a problem I have had to deal with for a few weeks and that is related to my back.

“I try to control the pain. Unfortunately I play tomorrow so it will be a short rest for my leg, but I am sure I am going to be fine.

“Playing Kuznetsova is obviously going to be a difficult match. She is a tough opponent, especially on clay.

“She is extremely dangerous and powerful.”

Things went well again for the Russian connection at the French Open as world number two Maria Sharapova, seventh seed Nadia Petrova, 12th seed Elena Bovina, and sixth seed Kuznetsova all booked their tickets to the last 16.

No fewer than six Russians are among the top 10 seeds at Roland Garros, one year after an Elena Dementieva lost to Anastasia Myskina in the final.

Wimbledon champion Sharapova, who is competing for the world number one spot, beat compatriot Anna Chakvetadze 6-1 6-4.

“I am happy with the way I have played, I got to a really good start and and I was in control from the first game,” the 18-year-old said.

“But I think as the rounds go on it’s going to be a lot tougher that it is right now.

“I will have to raise my level but it naturally comes when your rivals force you to.

“Mentally and physically it’s more draining but that’s what it’s all about and that’s how the best are the best.”

Bovina ousted another Frenchwoman, Tatiana Golovin, also in straight sets 6-3 7-5, and will face countrywoman Petrova in the last 16 on Monday.

“I think Tatiana was a little bit nervous as she had some pressure on her,” said Bovina on Golovin after her victory.

“She’s been in the spotlights, being French, here in Paris.

“It’s normal because she is a good player and she is young. It’s good for her if she learns to deal with that because it will not stop.

“I thought she played pretty good but maybe missed a couple of balls on important points.

“As far as I am concerned I kept my focus and just played pretty patient as those important moments.”

Kuznetsova dropped a set but eventually saw off the United States’ Marissa Irvin 6-1 2-6 6-0.

Earlier today, French 13th seed Nathalie Dechy suffered a shock third-round exit, losing 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 to unseeded Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives.

“I am extremely angry at myself, because I was controlling the match and was displaying a serious game,” said Dechy after her loss on Suzanne Lenglen court.

“But I thought I had already won and lost my concentration. This is really bad to have done that. I am not happy with myself at all.”

Llagostera Vives will take on Sharapova in the last 16 on Monday.

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