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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Henin, Hewitt slip through, Henman exits

Henin, Hewitt slip through, Henman exits

June 01, 2006 20:51 IST

An edgy Justine Henin-Hardenne beat the rain to slip through to the French Open third round with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Belarussian Anastasiya Yakimova on Thursday.

Men's seeds Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Robredo also progressed, but Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis lost in five sets before rain caused play to be suspended at 1335 GMT.

Playing on her 24th birthday, defending champion Henin-Hardenne was short of her best against 19-year-old Yakimova on centre court in a match played in steadily worsening weather.

The fifth seed took the first set comfortably enough but lost control of the second and the match looked certain to go into a decider when Yakimova held three set points at 5-4, 40-0.

However, Henin-Hardenne saved all three, the last with an audacious drop shot that left Yakimova sprawling.

The Belgian, who also won the claycourt Grand Slam in 2003, sealed victory two games later when Yakimova sent a wild forehand long as rain tumbled on to centre court.

"It's like Belgium in November," Henin-Hardenne said. "The conditions were awkward today and that created some highs and lows in the match. The balls were very heavy at the end so I'm happy to be in the third round."

Baghdatis lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 to France's Julien Benneteau.

The Cypriot, seeded 19, has suffered from injury and illness since losing to Roger Federer in Melbourne. He saved two match points in the fourth set before forcing a fifth but Benneteau, ranked 95, proved the stronger in the decider.

Men's 14th seed Lleyton Hewitt saved a set point before beating Frenchman Mathieu Montcourt 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

The Australian showed little sign of his ankle problem and if the former world number one wins his third round match, he is in line to meet defending champion Rafael Nadal in round four.

Montcourt, ranked 213, recovered from 4-1 down in the first set to lead 5-4 before Hewitt hit back and he eventually won comfortably in the first match on centre court.

"Coming in here a week ago I wasn't sure if I'd be able to play, so it's obviously good to be through to the third round," said Hewitt, twice a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros.

"I haven't wasted a lot of energy so far, got matches under my belt. We'll see what happens from here, though."


Nadal tackles American lucky loser Kevin Kim later on Thursday.

Another Spanish contender, seventh seed Robredo, completed a four-set win over Serbian Ilia Bozoljac, having led by two sets overnight.

British involvement in the French Open singles ended when Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who had led by two sets overnight, completed a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Tim Henman.

Henman, a surprise semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2004, lost to Tursunov at both Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open in January. Compatriots Andy Murray and Greg Rusedski both lost in the first round.

Former champion Anastasia Myskina eased past Hungary's Melinda Czink 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round. The Russian 10th seed, winner of the tournament in 2004, next faces 19th seed Ana Ivanovic.

Czech 11th seed Radek Stepanek hammered Davide Sanguinetti of Italy 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to reach round three and equal his best performance at a Grand Slam.

Henin-Hardenne's fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, the second seed, and Switzerland's Martina Hingis are also in action on Thursday although the best contest of the day could be between talented Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and eighth-seeded American James Blake.

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