September 1, 2006

Federer, Henin-Hardenne advance with different paths

By Steve Ginsburg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two-times defending champion Roger
Federer and 2003 titlist Justine Henin-Hardenne used different
paths to advance at the U.S. Open on Friday.

On a chilly day at Flushing Meadows, top seed Federer was
not at his best but good enough to ease past Briton Tim Henman
6-3 6-4 7-5 in a workmanlike second-round match.

Henin-Hardenne, however, needed to recover from a
disastrous first set to defeat number 28 seed Ai Sugiyama of
Japan, 4-6 6-1 6-0 and move on to the fourth round.

Under overcast skies with a threat of rain, there were few
upsets at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Among the legion of winners were sixth seed and 2004
champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on the women's side and Andy
Murray, Carlos Moya and Robby Ginepri on the men's.

Top seeded Federer blasted only six aces and never seemed
to fire on all cylinders but proved to be in a different league
than the 31-year-old Henman.

"I think the conditions were tough today, breezy, chilly,"
said Federer, who has yet to lose a set in his two matches.
"Henman was trying to kind of break the rhythm, as usual.

"So it makes it hard to really play well and get the good
rhythm going. I think it could have been easier, but it could
also been tougher.

"I thought it was a solid match because I didn't give him
any chances on my own service games and that's what I wanted to
do from the start."

Henin-Hardenne committed an uncharacteristic 17 unforced
errors in the first set and squandered a 4-1 lead. She had
Arthur Ashe Stadium abuzz after having her serve broken three
times in the opening frame.

But the gritty Belgian found her form in the final two sets
to subdue the 31-year-old Japanese journeywoman without much of
a fight.

"I was leading pretty easily in the first set,"
Henin-Hardenne said. "I didn't have the feeling that I was
moving well at the time, and I lost a little bit my intensity.
The conditions were pretty difficult.

"When I lost the first set, I understood I had no more
choice than winning the next two, and so be very focused on
every point. Then I played a very, very solid tennis."

Kuznetsova rolled on to the fourth round with a 59-minute
6-3 6-0 whipping of Russian compatriot Anastassia Rodionova.

Next up for the 21-year-old Kuznetsova will be 19 seed
Jelena Jankovic, who scored a mild upset of ninth seed Nicole
Vaidisova, 5-7 6-3 6-2.