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Henin-Hardenne Only Favorite Still Playing

June 1, 2005 09:10 AM

By Sandra Harwitt, Special to TennisReporters.net

FROM ROLAND GARROS – Back twinges or not, Justine Henin-Hardenne is solidifying her hold over this year's French Open with each match she plays.

In the fourth-round against Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Belgian said she sensed fear in the Russian when Kutzy had two match points to move into the quarterfinals. Clearly she was right as she went on to take a tough 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 7-5 win to earn her quarterfinal berth.

On Tuesday, she had a totally different sense of reigning Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, who showed little backbone against Henin-Hardenne in their 6-4, 6-2 encounter.

"I felt she didn't know anymore what to do," said Henin-Hardenne, who won five successive games, and six of the last seven games, after Sharapova held serve in the first game of the second set.

"She was in the quarterfinal. It's not too bad. And Maria is young."

Henin-Hardenne, 22, came into this Roland Garros looking solid in terms of having a shot at the title again – in 2003 she won here, and at the US Open, and was clearly the dominant player in the game. The 10th-seeded Belgian, who often headquarters herself in Florida, is putting together a remarkably quick and successful comeback this year. Henin-Hardenne suffered from an immune-compromising virus in 2004 and when she finally seemed to recover from that, pushed her training to the point she sustained a right knee fracture last December.

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