Henin denies Sharapova in Paris

 

Tennis:Four-time champion Justine Henin showed nerves of steel to beat Maria Sharapova of Russia 6-2 3-6 6-3 in their delayed French Open third-round match today.

With the match between two former world number ones held over at a set-all when darkness halted play on Saturday, Sharapova was quickest out of the blocks, racing to a 2-0 lead and then having Henin at 0-40 on the Belgian's serve.

But Henin, enjoying the majority of support from a crowd wrapped up against the chill wind, managed to hold on and then reeled off three more games to take a 4-2 lead in blustery conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Sharapova offered to extend the match further when she broke for 4-3 but time and again failed to come into the net when Henin was struggling at the back of the court.

Henin kept the unforced errors down to a minimum and waited for her chance, sealing victory in two hours 10 minutes when a Sharapova backhand drifted wide.

"I was out of first serves," said Henin after her first serve success rate slumped to 48 per cent.

"She caught me cold and I was actually expecting it. I had to react, I was a bit slow.

"In the first set, my tactics paid off and then I let her take control. She is a champion. I have a lot of admiration for her. It was a good test. I am so happy to still have an opportunity to win here.

"It was a difficult third-round match, but I'm the world number 23 so I'm not spared by the draw."

She now faces Australian seventh seed Sam Stosur for a place in the quarter-finals.