Henin beats Srebotnik in three-hour marathon


Dubai : World number one Justine Henin saved her best for last, playing the set of her season to outlast qualifier Katarina Srebotnik 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 in a difficult opening match at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships here.

Support TwoCircles

The Belgian, who got a bye in the first round, led a parade of seeds into the last eight, with number two Svetlana Kuznetsova and the third and fourth-seeded Serbs Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic also advancing.

After the match, Henin said her three-hour battle Wednesday with Slovenian Srebotnik was just what she needed to kick-start her season.

“I’m glad we had the third set,” said Henin, who has an unbeaten record in 17 matches here.

“It was the first set of my season where I enjoyed my game. I was able to find my rhythm. This was the match that I needed,” said the Belgian, who won titles in Sydney and Antwerp this season.

“I started winning some easy points on my serve. She played a good match, girls always play their best against me.”

Henin’s 13-ace performance took her into a Thursday quarterfinal clash with Italy’s Francesca Schiavone, who beat Austrian Sybille Bammer 6-3, 6-2.

Second seed Kuznetsova posted an easy second-round win, crushing Czech Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-2.

That rapid-fire win was in huge contrast to the three-hour marathon Anna Chekvetadze needed to hold off Russia’s unseeded Dinara Safina 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-3.

Between them, the pair produced 17 double faults and just four aces in a seesaw affair.

In the late-night session, Serb Ivanovic showed recovery from an ankle injury, defeating Czech Nicole Vaidisova 6-4, 6-0.

Jankovic, the number four seed, fought off frustration with her own game before ultimately controlling India’s Sania Mirza 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Chakvetadze will face Jankovic in the last eight, Kuznetsova, playing for the sixth consecutive year at the event, faces doubles partner Amelie Mauresmo, who beat Japan’s Akiko Morigami 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.