Originally created 06/02/06

Henin-Hardenne gives herself a birthday gift



PARIS - Defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne celebrated her 24th birthday Thursday with a second-round victory at the French Open, overcoming three set points in the second set to beat Anastasiya Yakimova, 6-2, 7-5.

Yakimova, a 19-year-old Belarussian, was on the verge of forcing a third set serving at 5-4, 40-love. Henin-Hardenne won the next nine points and closed out the victory when Yakimova hit a wild forehand on match point.

The center-court match was played in a drizzle on another chilly day at Roland Garros, with temperatures again in the 50s.

"We hope for better tennis for everyone," Henin-Hardenne said. "It was difficult to play good tennis today. The ball was just too heavy at the end of the match."

Two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt also won before a rain delay of 1 hour, 50 minutes, which backed up the schedule and forced some play to be postponed or suspended until today.

Henin-Hardenne, seeded fifth and seeking her third title in four years, advanced despite losing serve four times and committing 43 unforced errors.

Hewitt overcame a slow start to beat Mathieu Montcourt, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. The 14th-seeded Hewitt, who has been hampered by calf and ankle injuries, was playing only his third match since early April.

"The ankle is still not 100 percent," Hewitt said. "I've played with pain before, and this is just another case of it."

The Australian will next face No. 22 Dominik Hrbaty, who overcame Ivo Karlovic's 31 aces to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-2.

No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic matched his best showing at Roland Garros, reaching the third round by beating Oscar Hernandez, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-1, 6-2.

In a battle of the ages, No. 25 Gael Monfils beat qualifier Dick Norman, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-0, 7-5. Norman was the oldest man in the tournament at 35, while Monfils is 19.

No. 9 Fernando Gonzalez was upset by 19-year-old Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1. Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, seeded 19th, lost to Julien Benneteau, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-4.

No. 7 Tommy Robredo, No. 31 Dmitry Tursunov and qualifier Martin Vassallo Arguello won matches suspended overnight because of darkness.

Shenay Perry, one of three American women remaining, beat Akiko Morigami, 6-3, 6-0 in 54 minutes, to reach the third round for the first time. Perry will next play No. 32 Gisela Dulko.