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Henin-Hardenne rallies, Mauresmo loses
Updated: 2005-05-29 09:53

For a while, it appeared as though Justine Henin-Hardenne might not win a game during her third-round match at the French Open. The Belgian fell behind 5-0 before rallying to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 Saturday.

Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne returns the ball to Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues during their third round match of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros stadium, Saturday May 28, 2005 in Paris. Henin-Hardenne won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. [AP]

Henin-Hardenne needed 26 minutes just to capture a game, then found the range with a wide array of shots, seized an early lead in the final set and held her final four service games.

Henin-Hardenne, seeded 10th, improved to 23-1 since returning in March from a seven-month layoff because of a blood virus and knee injury. She has won 20 consecutive matches, all on clay.

"I had a lot of difficulties at the beginning, but that's because my opponent was so good," Henin-Hardenne said. "This was one of my best matches in recent times. She didn't give away anything. This type of match is very satisfying, because you really need to go for it."

The 2003 champion's opponent Sunday will be reigning U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat American Marissa Irvin 6-1, 2-6, 6-0. That result left top-ranked Lindsay Davenport as the lone remaining American, male or female, among the 22 who entered the tournament.

"I think a lot of it for Americans is just embracing being on the clay and not fighting it," Irvin said. "I think Americans don't expect as much out of themselves when they come over here."

Maria Sharapova had Anna Chakvetadze pounding the clay with her racket in frustration — and that was just two games into their match. Taking charge from the start, Sharapova won a duel of 18-year-old Russians, 6-1, 6-4.

Sharapova, seeded second, is seeking her first Roland Garros title and trying to overtake Davenport to claim the No. 1 ranking for the first time.

Three other Russian women also advanced — No. 6-seeded Kuznetsova, No. 7 Nadia Petrova and No. 12 Elena Bovina.

No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo of France endured another Roland Garros meltdown, losing to 17-year-old Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Mauresmo, who has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals in 11 tries, lost the final game at love and double-faulted on match point.

On the men's side, Russia's Marat Safin needed 3 hours, 46 minutes to eliminate 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6 (5), 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (2).

"It was a great match," said Safin, who had 13 aces. "I will remember it. I will get it on video."

Safin, seeded third, next plays No. 15 Tommy Robredo, who beat David Sanchez 6-4, 6-3, 6-1

No. 8 Guillermo Coria, the runner-up last year, beat Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (2). Coria will next play No. 12 Nikolay Davydenko, who won the final 14 games to beat No. 21 Tommy Haas 7-5, 6-0, 6-0.

Jose Acasuso, who beat No. 2 Andy Roddick in the second round, led 3-0 when No. 27 Filippo Volandri quit with a recurring injury to his racket hand.

Playing in the Court 1 stadium known as the bullring, Henin-Hardenne needed 2 hours, 17 minutes on a sunny, 82-degree afternoon to finish off Spaniard Medina Garrigues.

"I was feeling in great shape even at the end of the match," Henin-Hardenne said. "I still had some energy left."

Henin-Hardenne showed little evidence of the back injury that has hampered her in recent weeks, although she did hit six double-faults, increasing her tournament total to 23. She totaled 58 errors but also hit 45 winners to just 16 for Medina Garrigues.

Henin-Hardenne has beaten Spaniards on their best surface in all three matches this week.

"That wasn't easy," she said. "What's coming isn't easy, either."

Medina Garrigues hit perhaps the shot of the tournament — and still lost the point. Moving to her right when Henin-Hardenne hit a slam down the middle, Medina Garrigues braked and managed a lob by hitting the ball behind her back. Henin-Hardenne then put away a difficult backhand overhead for the point, prompting a rueful smile by the Spaniard.

Sharapova won the first five games against Chakvetadze, although the first two lasted a total of 24 points. Sharapova broke serve for the third time in the opening game of the second set, then held the rest of the way to win in 74 minutes.

Sharapova was briefly forced to delay her victory celebration. When Chakvetadze pulled a backhand barely wide on match point, Sharapova waited at the baseline while the chair umpire checked the mark and confirmed the call.

The two Russians shook hands, and Sharapova then grinned and blew kisses to the crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"I got off to a really good start, and I was in control from the first game," Sharapova said. "As the rounds go on, it's going to be a lot tougher than it is right now, so I have to raise my level another notch."

Sharapova's opponent Sunday will be unseeded Nuria Llagostera Vives, who upset No. 13 Nathalie Dechy of France, 7-6 (1), 6-3.

Petrova swept Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-1, and Bovina beat 17-year-old Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin 6-3, 7-5. Golovin had seven double-faults and failed to convert two sets points in the second set.

Chakvetadze also had seven double-faults while Sharapova displayed the dominating serve and pinpoint groundstrokes that helped her win Wimbledon last year.

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