Tennis-Henin back from brink in second comeback at Melbourne

Reuters

Mon, 17 Jan 13:46:00 2011

Justine Henin, who quit the tour in 2008 to find herself, nearly found herself out of the Australian Open on Monday after getting completely lost in her first-round match against India's Sania Mirza.

The seven-times grand slam champion was making her second comeback at Melbourne Park in two years, having spent six months on the sidelines due to an elbow ligament injury.

Her first comeback, 20 months after walking out of the game disillusioned, set last year's tournament alight with a barnstorming run stopped only by champion Serena Williams in the final.

That run was a distant memory for Henin on Monday as she nervously threw away the first set before feeling her way out of the darkness to post a scratchy 5-7 6-3 6-1 win.

"I was ready (for) a tough match because she's not a qualifier like maybe the others, as she has been in this type of situation," said Henin of her opponent, a huge celebrity in India.

"There are many things we can talk about that wasn't good in my game.

"But I think my attitude has been very positive. So I really kept fighting in the second set when I was feeling a bit down at that time.

"So I'm glad, because it wasn't an easy draw for me to start into the tournament."

Henin, who stands out from the crowd of baseline pounders thanks to her sublime backhands and tenacious net-rushing, played with a heavy black band strapped to her elbow as the injury as yet to heal completely.

"The problem ... it's going to be there for probably a little longer. I just try to stay focused on what's really important, my game and how I feel physically generally," said the former Melbourne Park champion, who will next take on Britain's Elena Baltacha.

"So I just try to forget a little bit about this."

 

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