Sharapova, Henin to meet in next round

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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So much has transpired in the nearly 2 1/2 years since Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin last played each other.

Sharapova needed right shoulder surgery and was off the tour for 10 months, then missed time with a right elbow injury. Henin abruptly announced her retirement and stayed away for 20 months, then returned, happier off the court and, so far, almost as good on it.

Paris -

So much has transpired in the nearly 2 1/2 years since Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin last played each other.

Sharapova needed right shoulder surgery and was off the tour for 10 months, then missed time with a right elbow injury. Henin abruptly announced her retirement and stayed away for 20 months, then returned, happier off the court and, so far, almost as good on it.

The two former No. 1s, owners of a combined 10 Grand Slam titles, set up an attention-worthy showdown in the French Open's third round today by wrapping up matter-of-fact victories on a sun-soaked, busy Friday.

"Comes very early, of course, third round," Henin said. "But I feel ready for it."

Relentless rain Thursday created a backlog of matches, meaning that nearly every big name in tennis was swinging a racket somewhere around Roland Garros a day later. Both Williams sisters; Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal; Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt - all played and won.

The only upset of real significance came when defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova lost 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to 30th-seeded Maria Kirilenko in a third-round match that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours. Even that wasn't exactly shocking, when you consider Kirilenko already beat Kuznetsova on clay at Rome this month and knocked out Sharapova at the Australian Open in January. Plus, Kuznetsova arrived in Paris with a losing record this year and barely eked through the second round by saving four match points.

"I have to move on. I have to grow and to improve," said Kuznetsova, who will fall out of the top 10 in the rankings for the first time in four years. "I didn't come here with my best game, but I gave it my all."

Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak was eliminated after a 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-4 to fifth-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva while Toronto's Daniel Nestor had mixed results in two matches.

Organizations: French Open, Australian Open

Geographic location: Paris, Rome, Toronto

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