Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki advance; Justin Henin out of Australian Open
Melbourne. Justine Henin’s run at the Australian Open finished in the third round Friday, losing 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 US 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 from the tour 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,” the seven-time Grand Slam winner 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 major with the No. 1-ranking, advanced in a routine way, then had a very unusual news conference. Also advancing were No. No. 8 Victoria Azarenka and No. 9 Li Na, a semifinalist here last year.
Maria Sharapova, who won the 2008 Australian women’s title, struggled to a comeback 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Julia Goerges of Germany.
Defending champion Roger Federer beat Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to earn his 57th career wins at the Australian Open, overhauling Stefan Edberg’s Open Era record.
“It’s very nice, but he still stays my idol,” said Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam winner, as he acknowledged yet another record.
He will next play Tommy Robredo, who beat Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
No. 3 Novak Djokovic’s third-round match lasted only one set — the 2008 champion was leading 6-2 when his Serbian Davis Cup-winning teammate Viktor Troicki retired with a stomach muscle strain.
Djokovic next plays No. 14 Nicolas Almagro, who beat No. 17 Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-3.
Andy Roddick was having trouble countering Robin Haase in the first set before his powerful serve kicked in. He finished with 32 aces in a 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2 win. No. 6 Tomas Berdych beat Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
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 tiebreaker, 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.
“I decided to play not being 100 percent. It’s been difficult in the last three days on my elbow and I just did everything that I could that it will be OK, but it wasn’t enough.”
The 2004 Australian Open champion said Kuznetsova was more aggressive, went to the net and hit more winners, so she deserved the victory.