Henin-Hardenne leads way into fourth round

Justine Henin-Hardenne became the first player to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon on Friday with another routine win in straight sets.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Justine Henin-Hardenne became the first player to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon on Friday with another routine win in straight sets. The third-seeded Belgian beat 34th-ranked Anna Chakvetadze of Russia, 6-2, 6-3 in 65 minutes on Court two, known as the "graveyard of champions" because of its history of big upsets. There was no danger of a surprise on Friday as Henin-Hardenne overwhelmed the 19-year-old Russian with 23 winners, closing out the match with a touch drop volley to break serve. Chakvetadze had just six winners, along with 15 unforced errors. Henin-Hardenne, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2001, won the French Open last month for her fifth major title. By winning Wimbledon, she would complete a career collection of all four Grand Slam titles. In her first two matches, Hardenne dropped a total of only four games. Friday's match was briefly interrupted at 5-2 in the first set when a ball girl fainted in the sun, with temperatures around 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit). She received treatment on the side of the court. Scheduled on Court one today was three-time defending champion Roger Federer, facing a third-round match against 77th-ranked Nicolas Mahut of France, winner of 2000 Junior Wimbledon. Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, was back to finish his match against South Korea's Lee Hyung-taik. They split the first four sets yesterday before play was suspended by darkness. Saturday's program will feature aging former champion Andre Agassi, playing in his final Wimbledon, against young dynamo Rafael Nadal, trying to make his breakthrough on grass. "He's a very confident, great competitor," Agassi said. "Needless to say, very talented and fit. So it's going to be a hard match." The 36-year-old Agassi, playing his 14th and final Wimbledon before retirement later this year, swept into the third round by beating Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-6 (2),6-4. The 20-year-old Nadal, the two-time French Open champion with a 60-match winning streak on clay, had a much tougher time. He came from two sets down, and two points from defeat in the fourth set, to overcome 237th-ranked American qualifier Robert Kendrick 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-4. It was a gutsy performance by Nadal, a relative grass-court novice who's playing Wimbledon for the third time and has never been past the third round. Facing Agassi, the 1992 Wimbledon champion and eight-time Grand Slam winner, is a much bigger challenge. Agassi, who played sparingly this year because of chronic back problems, is relieved to get through matches without feeling any pain. The victory moved Agassi into a second-place tie with Ivan Lendl for the most match wins (222) at Grand Slam tournaments in the Open era. Jimmy Connors tops the list with 233. Agassi is also the oldest man to reach the third round here since Connors in 1991 at age 38. (AP)