Henin-Hardenne wins opening match

Updated: April 7, 2004, 2:18 PM ET
Associated Press

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Martina Navratilova lost her first singles appearance in the United States in more than 10 years, falling to Milagros Sequera 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 Tuesday at the Bausch & Lomb Championships.

Navratilova's singles history
  Total Rank Last
Wins 1,440 1st 2002
Titles 167 1st 1994
Slams 18 T-3rd 1990
Yrs. in top 10 20 1st 1994
The 47-year-old Navratilova, impressive in the first set, lost the last four games of the second, and lost her serve twice to fall behind 3-0 in the third. She rallied to 3-2 down, but was broken again in the seventh game.

"I lost it mentally," Navratilova said. "I was in and out the last two sets."

Afterward, she received a standing ovation.

"It was sweet," Navratilova said. "The people were obviously excited. It was great to be out there."

Sequera was a last minute replacement for Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico, who withdrew because of a left foot injury.

"She's a legend," Sequera said of Navratilova. "I was a bit intimidated to play her."

Top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne battled past a stubborn Dinara Safina, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

Henin-Hardenne overcame 12 double faults, including eight in the second set, and won in 1 hour, 52 minutes.

"I wasn't at my best for sure," Henin-Hardenne said. "But you need this kind of match to get used to the (clay) surface here."

Amy Frazier recorded the only upset, ousting No. 11 Jelena Dokic of Serbia, 6-4, 7-5.

In other matches, former champions Lindsay Davenport and Mary Pierce advanced with straight-set victories.

After a first-round bye, Davenport beat Tian Tian Sun of China 6-2, 7-5. Davenport won here in 1997 and was runner-up last year. Pierce beat Meghann Shaughnessy 6-1, 6-2..

Pierce, a three-time finalist here before finally winning in 1998, hasn't played for two months and next faces second-seeded Serena Williams, who won the Nasdaq-100 Open on Sunday following an eight-month layoff.

Navratilova, the winner of 18 singles and 31 doubles Grand Slam events, took this event three times during the 1980s -- including the tournament's first title 25 years ago. She accepted a wild-card entry to help her doubles game, and to inspire others.

She came pleased by her performance, especially her serve. It was consistently in the 90s and topped 100 mph a handful of times.

"I did it without even trying to go for the big bomb," she said.

She had not played singles in this country since 1994. She played in Eastbourne, England, two years ago, but that was only because she lost a bet with her trainer. Navratilova defeated Tatiana Panova in one of two matches to become the oldest player to win a WTA Tour singles match (45 years, eight months).

Other results: eighth-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia defeated Tina Pisnik of Slovenia 6-3, 1-6, 7-5, No. 9 Paola Suarez of Argentina downed Mara Santangelo of Italy 6-2, 6-3, No. 10 Silvia Farina Elia of Italy beat Elena Likhovtseva of Russia 6-4, 6-4 and No. 12 Patty Schnyder routed Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian 6-1, 6-0.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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