August 28, 2006

Henin-Hardenne breezes through

By Simon Cambers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Second seed Justine Henin-Hardenne
breezed through to the second round of the U.S. Open on Monday
with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Italian Maria Elena Camerin.

After a rain delay of more than 90 minutes, the Belgian,
who won the title in 2003, broke in the first game and was
never troubled.

"It was a difficult match because I didn't hit single a
ball on the U.S. Open courts until the warm-up because of the
rain over the past two days," Henin-Hardenne told reporters.

"I was a bit nervous about that because you want time to
get used to the conditions but I feel good. It's the first year
since 2003 that I have played the four grand-slam events."

Henin-Hardenne began the year by reaching the Australian
Open final, where she had to retire against Frenchwoman Amelie
Mauresmo because of stomach pain brought on by
anti-inflammatories she was taking for a shoulder injury.

But she won the French Open for the third time in June and
then reached her third grand-slam final of the year at
Wimbledon, losing out to Mauresmo again.

"What I did until now (this year) is amazing," she said.

"It's maybe the best season of my career, with 2003, I
would say. I've been very consistent from the beginning of the

After the Wimbledon defeat, Henin-Hardenne's return to the
Tour was delayed by a niggling right knee injury.

The 24-year-old arrived in New York in excellent form after
taking the New Haven Open title last weekend, including wins
over former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and an
injury-hit Lindsay Davenport in the final.

"Now my knee is feeling fine," she said. "It's not easy on
hard courts with this kind of injury but I just have to rest it
a lot."

World number 45 Camerin had treatment for a left thigh
injury after she was broken for 2-1 in the second set and
Henin-Hardenne cruised through the remaining four games.

In the second round, the Belgian will play Vania King of
the U.S., who beat Australian Alicia Molik 6-3 6-2.