Tennis: Single-minded Henin back in style

8th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 7, 2007 (AFP) - Top seed Justine Henin shook off the ring rust to earn a come from behind 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Frenchwoman Emilie Loit at the 600,000-dollar Paris Indoor Open here Wednesday.

PARIS, Feb 7, 2007 (AFP) - Top seed Justine Henin shook off the ring rust to earn a come from behind 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Frenchwoman Emilie Loit at the 600,000-dollar Paris Indoor Open here Wednesday.

Henin was playing for the first time since mid-November and since splitting from her husband last month.

The Belgian, former world number one, admitted it was tough at first but she was happy to finally put her recent difficult period behind her.

I've had a lot to cope with these last few weeks and it's always good to get your first win under your belt when you come back," she said. "I now know what I can expect from myself."

"I have to be happy with the win. There were some little things that need working on and I need to raise my level, that's for sure but I will have the chance to do that on Friday (in the quarter-finals)."

Henin took a while to find her rhythm and her first set was strewn with errors.

She netted a forehand to serve up a break for Loit in the eighth game and then could only watch helplessly as her opponent clinched the first set in the next game with a rasping forehand down the line.

But the flow changed from the second set onwards and the world number two from Belgium quickly imposed her superiority, claiming the second set with a delightful drop volley and then cantering away with the third for a place in the quarter-finals.

Seventh seed Dinara Safina survived a marathon battle against Camille Pin to also take her place in the last eight.

Safina recovered from dropping the opening set to win this second round clash 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) in just under two and a quarter hours of gripping contest. 

The big Russian admitted later that she had suffered physically.

"Honestly, I had cramps in my hands but I tried not to show it. I felt like the Road Runner out there on court," she said.

"At times I had to prize my fingers open, I was just glad it (cramps) didn't go deeper because the problem is when it goes to your legs."

An upset looked on the cards as the world number 75 Frenchwoman stormed the first set against her number 12-ranked opponent.

But while the notoriously brittle Safina, sister of former men's world number one Marat Safin, was at her erratic worst in the first set, she bounced back thereafter.

"In the first set I tried to hit winners off every ball but I lost so I had to take some pace off after that and I played better in the second and third sets," said Safina.

Come the third, Pin's greater consistency and fewer unforced errors seemed to be gaining the upper hand. Three times she broke to move in front but on each occasion Safina blasted her off the court in her next service game.

Safina raced into a 6-3 lead in the final set tie-break but Pin saved the first two match points and seemed all set to save the third as well when a cruel twist of luck denied her.

Having run Safina out of court, she advanced to put away a winning forehand, only to see the ball clip the top of the net and skew off into the tram-lines.

Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia also survived a marathon and a poor start as she overcame Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to reach the quarters.

Moscow-born Tatiana Golovin won the battle of the French teenagers with a 6-2, 6-2 first round victory over Alize Cornet.

Eighth seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze thrashed compatriot Olga Poutchkova 6-2, 6-0.

She next faces Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues who beat France's Severine Bremond 6-2, 7-5 despite trailing 5-1 in the second set.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Tennis

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