September 1, 2006

Federer, Henin-Hardenne win before rainout

By Steve Ginsburg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Twice defending champion Roger Federer
and 2003 winner Justine Henin-Hardenne followed different paths
to advance at the U.S. Open on Friday before rain washed out
the evening session at the season's last grand slam.

American Lindsay Davenport's match against Slovenia's
Katarina Srebotnik, and fourth-seeded David Nalbandian's game
against unseeded 2000 Open winner Marat Safin were rained off.

More rain is forecast for Saturday.

Top seed Federer was not at his best on a windy, chilly day
at Flushing Meadows but still managed 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 Japanese 28th seed Ai Sugiyama
4-6 6-1 6-0 before moving on to the fourth round.

Among Friday's winners were 2004 champion Svetlana
Kuznetsova and runner-up that year Elena Dementieva, while on
the men's side fifth seed James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko (7),
Fernando Gonzalez (10), Tommy Haas (14) and Andy Murray (17)

Top-seed Federer registered only six aces and never seemed
to be firing on all cylinders but still 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 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."

Federer next meets 84th-ranked American Vince Spadea, who
eliminated 29th seed Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden in straight sets.


Blake posted his second successive straight-sets win at the
Open, advancing past Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-3 6-4 7-6.

"I was real proud of the way I served. That got me out of
trouble, especially in this wind," said Blake, who next faces
former French Open champion Carlos Moya. "I feel like I'm
playing well."

The American also registered a striking homage to Andre
Agassi, wearing a reproduction of a vintage hot-pink Agassi
outfit circa 1990, and blowing kisses and bowing to the crowd
in signature Agassi style at the end of his match.

Henin-Hardenne committed an uncharacteristic 17 unforced
errors in the first set and squandered a 4-1 lead as Sugiyama
broke her serve three times.

But the Belgian found her form in the final two sets to
subdue the 31-year-old Japanese 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 of 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 very, very solid tennis."

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

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

Dementieva advanced past fellow-Russian Vera Zvonareva 7-5
6-3 to set up a meeting with unseeded Aravane Rezai of France,
who ousted 20th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-1.