Admittedly nursing a bad elbow since her comeback from injury, and the subsequent confidence challenges that go with, former No. 1 Justine Henin was ushered out of the Australian Open on Friday by No. 23 seed and former US Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6(8).
Kuznetsova had lost 12 of her last 13 meetings against Henin entering the Friday contest.
“I think I was aggressive, and I served better,” Kuznetsova said. “Then I think I dictated most of the time. I have not been scared at all when I went to the match, so I just wanted to play my game and try to play with my best against her worst. She doesn’t have worse, but I mean something where she doesn’t like.”
Henin made 41 unforced errors in a painful display, and wasted set points in both sets. She ended the contest with a double fault and forehand error, one of nine doubles for the Belgian.
“I know I’m not 100 percent,” Henin said. “I knew it before walking on the court. 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 okay, but it wasn’t enough. I think Svetlana played a good match. She has all the credit today.”
Kuznetsova will next play French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, who on Friday defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-0, 7-6(2).
World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki advanced in a revenge match, defeating No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who had beaten her weeks ago at the WTA event in Sydney, 6-4, 6-3.
“I think I played a pretty good match,” said Wozniacki, who hit only 11 winners to Cibulkova’s 31, but made up the difference in unforced errors, 11 to her opponent’s 41. “I am happy I got the revenge since I lost to her in Sydney last week…I actually feel like I had to [play defensively]. I had to run a lot of balls down today because she was playing really aggressively, trying to hit from the first point.”
Wozniacki, to the bemusement of the media, entered her post-match conference and immediately began interviewing herself, rattling off answers to questions she hears over and over again after hearing that members of the media found her press conferences “boring.”
“Well, yesterday I got the question by the media, they said that my press conferences were kind of boring. Yeah, that I always gave the same answers,” Wozniacki began. “I find it quite funny because I always get the same questions. So I’m just going to start. I know what you’re going to ask me already. So I’m just going to start with the answer. I felt great out there today on the court. You know, I think I played a pretty good match…You know, I’m happy to be through to the next round. I don’t know who I’m playing, so maybe you can ask me that afterwards. But I’m really looking forward to playing my fourth round. It’s the second time in a row that that’s happened…I mean, what I do need to do to win this tournament…Uhm, if I deserve to be No. 1. If this was maybe another proof that I belong there. Again, I don’t feel any pressure to be No. 1. I really enjoy myself…My racquet feels really good (laughter). I feel like the racquet is really helping me out. I feel like there is no problems.”
No. 4 seed Venus Williams gave No. 30-seeded German Andrea Petkovic a free pass into the next round, retiring after one game due to a pelvic muscle injury in a previous match. It was the first time in 251 career matches that the elder Williams sister retired from a Grand Slam match. Petkovic advances to meet Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.
The No. 14-seeded Sharapova came from a set down Friday to defeat unseeded German Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, a match that had TV commentators and fans alike transfixed as the two leggy beauties battled it out, both wearing Sharapova’s signature Nike clothing line.
“Most important thing is I fought for my chances,” said Sharapova on recovering from a shaky start. “I stepped it up and started hitting a little bit deeper. Some of my balls were going short in the first set and kind of went down on my tension a little bit…She’s the type of opponent that can go out and swing pretty freely. She has pretty big strokes and a good first serve. When things are going smooth, I mean it seemed like she can hit a winner from every part of the court.”
Other winners were No. 8 Victoria Azarenka beating South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers, and No. 9 Li Na topping Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, both in straight sets. Latvian Anastasija Sevastova was the only winner in all-unseeded play on the day, cruising past Russian qualifier Vesna Manasieva.
Saturday highlights in Melbourne in women’s third-round play are (2) Vera Zvonareva vs. (31) Lucie Safarova, French upset specialist Alize Cornet vs. (3) Kim Clijsters, (5) Samantha Stosur vs. (25) Petra Kvitova, (22) Flavia Pennetta vs. (10) Shahar Peer, an all-Russian in (13) Nadia Petrova vs. Ekaterina Makarova, and an all-Asian in China’s Shuai Peng vs. Japan’s Ayumi Morita.
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