Henin comeback continues in Australia

Justine Henin today fought back from a set down to keep her Australian Open title quest going just a month after returning from retirement.

Justine Henin today fought back from a set down to keep her Australian Open title quest going just a month after returning from retirement.

The Belgian had looked to be on her way out against 27th seed Alisa Kleybanova when she lost the first set and went down a break in the next.

But the seven-time grand slam winner made a stunning recovery to win 3-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 20 minutes on the Hisense Arena.

"I kind of survived a little bit today," Henin admitted. "It's always good to win this kind of match because I came back from nowhere."

Henin admitted she had still felt drained after her closely-fought second-round win over Elena Dementieva on Wednesday night.

"It was so difficult for me after last match. Physically I suffered a little bit in the last two days," Henin said.

"My body has suffered a lot. It's not used to it anymore."

Henin's next opponent will be her fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer who defeated Sara Errani 6-1 7-6 (7/4) 6-3.

Wickmayer is the world number 16, but like Henin is unseeded in the draw after she had to go through the qualifier because of a missed doping test suspension that was not lifted in time for direct entry.

Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko claimed the biggest scalp in the women's draw so far when she easily beat eighth seed Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-3.

Jankovic had won the previous nine meetings between the pair, but 40 unforced errors ensured her tournament ended prematurely.

It continued a frustrating run of early exits for the 24-year-old Serbian, who arrived in Australia 12 months ago as the world number one but has now not got past the fourth round of a grand slam since reaching the 2008 US Open final.

"I just have to stay positive, keep my head up high," Jankovic said.

"I know what I have to work on. I feel like my game is improving, and I feel like I really can raise my level and be up there.

"My goal is to come back to the top again."

Second seed Dinara Safina laid to rest some of the demons of her embarrassment to Serena Williams in the final on Rod Laver Arena last year.

The Russian stepped out on centre court for the first time since that 6-0 6-3 humbling and routed Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-1 6-2 in less than an hour to continue her rapid progress through the early rounds.

"My first three rounds have all been really quick," Safina said.

"I think it's nice to win this quick. I remember last year playing three hours in the heat. I like it much better to play like this than to take three hours."

Safina will play her fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the last 16 after she defeated Roberta Vinci 7-5 7-6 (7/4).

Kirilenko knocked out 2008 winner Maria Sharapova in the opening round and her win today ensured she equalled her best result at a grand slam.

In the final match of the day session, China's Jie Zheng upset French 11th seed Marion Bartoli 5-7 6-3 6-0.

Zheng's victory ensured she replicated her run to the last 16 at Melbourne Park last year and she will meet the 31st seed Bondarenko.

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox