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French Open: Henin dispatches Sharapova, Venus exits

Last updated on: May 30, 2010 23:17 IST

Henin overcomes Sharapova scare



Four-time champion Justine Henin showed nerves of steel to beat Maria Sharapova of Russia 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in their delayed French Open third-round match on Sunday.

With the match between two former world number ones held over at a set-all when darkness halted play on Saturday, Sharapova was quickest out of the blocks, racing to a 2-0 lead and then having Henin at 0-40 on the Belgian's serve.

But Henin, enjoying the majority of support from a crowd wrapped up against the chill wind, managed to hold on and then reeled off three more games to take a 4-2 lead in blustery conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Sharapova offered to extend the match further when she broke for 4-3 but time and again failed to come into the net when Henin was struggling at the back of the court.

Image: Justine Henin
Photographs: Reuters

'It was a difficult third-round match'

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Henin kept the unforced errors down to a minimum and waited for her chance, sealing victory in two hours 10 minutes when a Sharapova backhand drifted wide.

"I was out of first serves," Henin said in a courtside interview after her first serve success rate slumped to 48 percent.

"She caught me cold and I was actually expecting it. I had to react, I was a bit slow.

"In the first set, my tactics paid off and then I let her take control. She is a champion. I have a lot of admiration for her. It was a good test. I am so happy to still have an opportunity to win here.

"It was a difficult third-round match, but I'm the world number 23 so I'm not spared by the draw."

She now faces Australian seventh seed Samantha Stosur for a place in the quarter-finals.

Image: Maria Sharapova

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Schiavone powers into last eight

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Experienced Italian Francesca Schiavone reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time in nine years when she beat Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday.

On a chilly Parisian morning, the 17th-seeded Schiavone, who featured in the claycourt Grand Slam last eight in 2001, was made to work by Kirilenko who knocked out defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the previous round.

The demonstrative Schiavone, who raised her arms in the air after a cunning lob and applauded a fine Kirilenko volley, ended the contest on her opponent's serve after one hour and 51 minutes.

She will next face World No 3 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Image: Francesca Schiavone in action against Maria Kirilenko

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Petrova sends Venus packing

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Second seed Venus Williams was unexpectedly sent packing from the French Open on Sunday when Russian 19th seed Nadia Petrova mastered the gusty conditions in a no-nonsense 6-4, 6-3 fourth-round win.

The American, a finalist in Paris in 2002, could not derail Petrova's consistent claycourt game on a windswept Centre Court as the Russian reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2005.

Petrova, who saved three match points in the previous round against local hope Aravane Rezai, made up for an early break in the second set and wrapped up the win after one hour and 30 minutes.

"It's my most dramatic French Open," Petrova, who reached the last four here in 2003 and 2005, told a courtside interviewer.

"Before yesterday's match I did not sleep all night. I'm very happy I came back strong on that Centre Court. I'm in very good condition physically."

Explaining her first defeat by Petrova in five meetings, Williams said her game had malfunctioned in the cold.

"I feel like I had a day where I wanted to hit the ball crosscourt and it went down the line, sometimes it happens," the 29-year-old said. "Sometimes when it's too cold it's hard to feel the racket."

Petrova will next face fellow Russian Elena Dementieva, the fifth seed, for a place in the semi-finals.

She has a 7-7 record against Dementieva.

Image: Nadia Petrova

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Wozniacki survives Pennetta challenge to reach quarters

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World No 3 Caroline Wozniacki came out on top in a three-hour tussle to down Italian Flavia Pennetta 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 in the fourth round of the French Open on Sunday.

The Dane, who reached the last eight of a Grand Slam on one previous occasion when she lost the US Open final last year, had more fuel in the tank as the 14th-seeded Pennetta stalled in the decider.

Wozniacki, who broke Pennetta's serve 10 times, won the last four games and ended the contest on her third match point when Pennetta netted a forehand.

She will next face another Italian, 17th-seeded Francesca Schiavone, for a place in the last four.

Dementieva ended the dream run of qualifier Chanelle Scheepers, the first South African to reach the fourth round for 13 years, in an error-strewn opener on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Image: Caroline Wozniacki

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Federer makes short work of Wawrinka to enter quarters

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Top seed Roger Federer tamed a swirling wind and close friend Stanislas Wawrinka during a clinical straight-sets victory to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open on Sunday.

Federer, who teamed up with Wawrinka to win the doubles gold for Switzerland at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was at his masterful best to post a 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 victory and move into the last eight without dropping a set.

Wawrinka had a chance to blot the defending champion's copybook when he went a break up in the second but Federer predictably hit back and secured the set on a tiebreak.

It was all too much for Wawrinka who destroyed a racket frame in frustration and Federer rolled through the third, clinching victory in one hour 56 minutes when he smashed the ball away into an empty court.

Federer now faces Robin Soderling, the man he beat to complete his career Grand Slam here last year, after the dangerous Swede destroyed Croatia's Marin Cilic 6-4 6-4 6-2.

French hopes died when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired injured after losing the first set against Mikhail Youzhny.

Image: Actress Salma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault, watch the match between Federer and Wawrinka

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