Henin through after scare

Former champion Justine Henin was given a first-round scare by India’s Sania Mirza on day one of the Australian Open.

Former champion Justine Henin was given a first-round scare by India’s Sania Mirza on day one of the Australian Open.

The Belgian dropped the opening set but improved to win 5-7 6-3 6-1 and set up a last-64 clash with Britain’s Elena Baltacha.

Henin had her serve broken four times in the opening set, a worrying sign for the 2004 winner ahead of bigger challenges later in the tournament.

But the 11th seed then began to play more in keeping with her status, and was far too strong for qualifier Mirza in a swift final set.

The former world number one missed six months with an elbow injury after Wimbledon, returning only for the start of this year, and has admitted she will need several matches before she feels attuned to the demands of the highest level.

She did not discount her chances of success in Melbourne, heading into this tournament, but Mirza threatened to expose Henin’s limited recent match experience as she swept into a shock lead.

Last year saw Henin, in her first grand slam since coming out of retirement, lose to Serena Williams in the final.

Another appearance in the final looked unlikely as Henin struggled to get on top of an opponent ranked 145th in the world, but she raised her performance when it mattered to level the match, before swatting Mirza aside in the 28-minute decider.

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