Svetlana Kuznetsova advances
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Justine Henin's run at the Australian Open finished in the third round Friday when she lost 6-4, 7-6 (8) to Svetlana Kuznetsova, just a year after reaching the final in her comeback to Grand Slam tennis.
It was Henin's first loss in a major to Kuznetsova, the former French and U.S. Open champion, and her worst run at a Grand Slam event since Wimbledon in 2005.
Henin was only weeks into a comeback from a career break when she lost the final last year to Serena Williams, the third time in four appearances that she'd reached the championship match at Melbourne. Her comeback season was derailed when she injured her right elbow at Wimbledon and didn't play again in 2010.
"There are some days that are harder than others for a lot of reasons, physical, mental, your adversary also, sometimes a style of game that is harder to manage, the pressure," Henin said. "But obviously I wanted to play, I wanted to win. I wanted to go as far as possible."
Kuznetsova will meet French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the fourth round.
Caroline Wozniacki, playing her first major with the No. 1 ranking, advanced in routine fashion and then had a very unusual news conference. Also advancing were No. 8 Victoria Azarenka and No. 9 Li Na, a semifinalist last year.
Henin put up quite a fight against Kuznetsova, despite the constant pain in her elbow.
Kuznetsova twice had chances to serve out the match but Henin broke her both times. In a fluctuating tiebreak, Kuznetsova was ahead 6-4 before Henin sent a service return skidding down the line and took the next point. She netted a forehand to give Kuznetsova another match point at 8-7 but again hit a powerful forehand service return winner.
Henin finally lost when she sent a forehand wide, giving Kuznetsova only her third win in 19 head-to-head meetings dating to 2003. She had nine double-faults and 41 unforced errors in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance.
"I know I'm not 100 percent -- I knew it before walking on the court," she said. "That's why I say there are no excuses."
The 2004 Australian Open champion said Kuznetsova was more aggressive, went to the net and hit more winners, so she deserved the victory.
In the previous match on center court, Wozniacki beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-3 to avenge last week's loss in a tuneup tournament. Then she turned the tables on the media.
Hearing she'd come across as a bit boring in recent interviews, she opened a postmatch news conference with a funny monologue, saying she knew what would be asked so she'd just give her stock answers one-by-one. Then she invited questions on "more interesting" topics, including the piano, cricket, soccer and what she's looking for in a boyfriend.
Wozniacki, playing her first Grand Slam as the world No. 1, is seeking her first major win.
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"I am happy I got the revenge since I lost to her in Sydney last week. It was not an easy match. She went out there, she was really on fire. You know, I'm happy to be through to the next round," the 20-year-old Danish player said, working through the answers to the usual questions.
No. 6 Schiavone beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-0, 7-6 (2), while Li, who lost to Williams in two tiebreak sets in last year's semifinals, advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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