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Henin-Hardenne wins at Pacific Life Open
(Agencies)
Updated: 2004-03-19 11:44

Top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne avenged her only loss of the year by winning another tough match against Russian teenager Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday in the Pacific Life Open.


Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium stretches to return a serve by Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during the first set of a quarterfinal of Pacific Life Open on Thursday, March 18, 2004, in Indian Wells, Calif. Henin-Hardenne reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 7-5 win. [AP]
When Henin-Hardenne finally won 6-4, 7-5 the Belgian star clinched both fists and pumped her arms a bit as if to say, "Yeah!" It was the fourth meeting between the two players this year.

The victory sends Henin-Hardenne, a three-time winner with a 20-1 record this year, into the semifinals.

Men's No. 1 Roger Federer had an easier time in his quarterfinal match, defeating Juan Ignacio Chela 6-2, 6-1 to also run his 2004 record to 20-1.

The Swiss star has lost only 15 games in four matches at Indian Wells. He has been broken just once the entire tournament, in the third game of the opening set against Chela.

Kuznetsova, the 18-year-old daughter of cycling coach Alexandr Kuznetsova, had upset Henin-Hardenne in the semifinals at Qatar in three sets earlier this month, and she didn't go quietly in the rematch.

"I got a little revenge. It made me a little bit nervous because I know how well she's playing," Henin-Hardenne said. "I was nervous a little bit no, a lot this morning when I woke up because she's the only player that beat me this year."

Henin-Hardenne will face another Russian, Anastasia Myskina, in the semifinals on Friday. Myskina, 22, outlasted 31-year-old Conchita Martinez 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-3.

Henin-Hardenne started fast and built a 4-0 lead before Kuznetsova began winning points by driving her powerful forehand to Henin-Hardenne's backhand.

The 14th-ranked Kuznetsova narrowed the gap to 5-4 before she lost the final two points of the set by hitting consecutive forehands long.

The St. Petersburg native then built a 5-4 lead in the second set and had double set point in the 10th game before Henin-Hardenne began to fight her way back.

That game went to deuce four times and featured several long, well-played rallies from the baseline, but Henin-Hardenne finally ended it with a deep forehand winner, then a 98-mph serve that Kuznetsova couldn't handle.

Henin-Hardenne, 21, went on to win the next two games, keeping Kuznetsova scrambling from side to side until she finally hit the ball out or into the net.

Kuznetsova's final backhand into the net on a service return sent Henin-Hardenne into the semis.

In the first match between the two this year, Henin-Hardenne won 6-2, 7-5 in the third round on her way to the Australian Open championship, her third Grand Slam title. She beat Kuznetsova again in the final at Dubai, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Kuznetsova, who has won two titles in her brief career, lost to Myskina in three sets in the Qatar Open final.

Federer's victory over Chela was much easier than he expected.

"It was a dangerous match today, but I handled it well," Federer said, explaining that he was able to successfully adjust to Chela's style.

 
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