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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 22, 2010

Henin rallies in Australian Open


Advertiser News Services

Justine Henin staged another memorable comeback today to advance in her first Grand Slam out of retirement, beating No. 27 Alisa Kleybanova, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne.

Facing two break points at 1-3 in the second set, it seemed as if Henin's dramatic win over Olympic gold medalist and fifth-ranked Elena Dementieva on Wednesday had sapped too much energy. After all, it was only the seventh match for the seven-time Grand Slam winner since she returned from 20 months off the tour.

But Henin managed to hold that game, hitting the lines with her groundstrokes instead of just missing them, and in the next game converted her first break-point chance against Kleybanova. As soon as Henin found her range, the match was as good as over.

"I kind of survived a little bit today," Henin said. "It's always good to win this kind of match because I came back from nowhere."

Second-seeded Dinara Safina had an easier third-round match, advancing with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Britain's Elena Baltacha in her first match on Rod Laver Arena since her lopsided loss to Serena Williams in last year's final.

Former No. 1-ranked Andy Roddick was challenged all the way in a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Feliciano Lopez.

Roger Federer, the king of tennis, met Britain's Prince William on the same court the previous evening. After Federer dispatched Victor Hanescu, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, in 99 minutes yesterday, on-court interviewer Jim Courier invited the top-ranked Swiss star to acknowledge the rare visit to Melbourne by a high-ranking British royal.

"Your Royal Highness, welcome to the world of tennis," Federer said. "Thanks for coming."

FIGURE SKATING

COHEN IN CONTENTION

Sasha Cohen trumpeted her return to world-class skating after a four-year absence with a confident and graceful performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last night that put her into contention to make a third American Olympic team.

Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, was second in the women's competition after last night's short program at Spokane, Wash.

With a personal-best short program score of 69.93, she finds herself in between Mirai Nagasu, the 2009 U.S. champion, at 70.06, and Rachael Flatt, the 2009 U.S. silver medalist, at 69.35, going into tomorrow's free skate.

Cohen hasn't competed since the 2006 World Championships.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the compulsory dance earlier yesterday, beating Olympic silver medalists and former training partners Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. Davis and White's lead is just .4 points heading into today's original dance.

PLUSHENKO TRIUMPHS

Evgeni Plushenko aced his last major test before seeking a second consecutive Olympic gold next month by winning the European figure skating championships yesterday at Tallinn, Estonia.

The Russian's solid free program included his typical technical finesse and a surprising error. There were gasps in the audience when he unexpectedly doubled a triple lutz.

Plushenko said he may have missed it because he's been working on a quad lutz "and maybe I just have to concentrate on the triple."

GOLF

NO HOPE AFTER RAIN

Heavy rains forced the postponement of the second round of the Bob Hope Classic yesterday at La Quinta, Calif., wiping out a day of competition at the tournament for the first time in 30 years.

The latest wave of Southern California's major rainstorms hit the Palm Springs area Wednesday afternoon and scarcely let up yesterday morning, with water pooling on greens and fairways.