Justine Henin-Hardenne has reached the semi-finals of the Sony Ericsson Championships with a match to spare.
The reigning French Open champion from Belgium, Henin-Hardenne took a big step toward ending the year as the world’s top-ranked female player by posting a 6-4 6-4 victory over Russian Nadia Petrova in a Yellow Group match.
With Amelie Mauresmo having been eliminated from contention for the top ranking, Henin-Hardenne will end the season as number one unless Maria Sharapova wins the title and she loses in the semi-finals.
The third-seeded Henin-Hardenne improved to 2-0 in the Yellow Group, while Petrova slipped to 1-1.
The Australian Open and Wimbledon champion from France, the top-seeded Mauresmo won her first match at the championships when she fought back from a set down to defeat Martina Hingis 3-6 6-1 6-4.
Kim Clijsters, meanwhile, cruised to victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova, hammering the fourth-seeded Russian 6-1 6-1 in the day’s only Red Group match, committing just four unforced errors to move to a 1-1 record.