... Henin happy to sur­vive

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

MEL­BOURNE: De­fend­ing cham­pion Rafael Nadal says he had a bad day at the Aus­tralian Open and re­alises los­ing is not the end of the world.

That said, he did not lose yes­ter­day. He ad­vanced to the fourth-round and re­mained on track to de­fend his ti­tle – but with a sober out­look. “To­mor­row is an­other day,” said Nadal, the No 2-seeded player in Mel­bourne and a five-time Grand Slam win­ner.

Here’s how Nadal summed up his 6-4 6-2 2-6 7-5 win over Ger­many’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, the No 27-seed. In the first set, “I played bad.” In the sec­ond set, “a few mo­ments, I played well. In the third I started ter­ri­ble, no? I think I played much bet­ter in the fourth set than the rest,” said Nadal, who con­verted only three of fif­teen break point chances. “Ev­ery­body has not very good days.” Last year, Nadal beat Roger Fed­erer in a marathon five-set fi­nal that left the stoic Swiss star in tears. Nadal went on to dom­i­nate ten­nis as the top-ranked player up un­til the French Open, when the four-time de­fend­ing cham­pion’s early exit led to ex­tended time away be­cause of in­juries.

The Spa­niard couldn’t de­fend his Wim­ble­don tro­phy due to ten­donitis in both knees, dropped to No 2 and failed to win an­other tour­na­ment. He started this sea­son in Doha where he reached the fi­nal but lost to Niko­lay Davy­denko, the No 6-seed in Mel­bourne.

Nadal faces 2.08m-tall Ivo Karlovic in the next round. Karlovic holds the tour record for the most aces in a match with 78. To counter that, Nadal plans to play more ag­gres­sive, longer points. “(But) if I lost here next round, I’m go­ing to have chances to play well all sea­son,” Nadal said. “The Aus­tralian Open is a very im­por­tant tour­na­ment, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Justine Henin is wear­ing a new di­a­mond ring and was sur­prised yes­ter­day that no­body asked about it ear­lier. Henin has been spot­ted wear­ing it on the ring fin­ger of her left hand dur­ing ear­lier matches at the Aus­tralian Open, her first Grand Slam since end- ing a pre­ma­ture re­tire­ment.

Yes­ter­day, she staged an­other mem­o­rable come­back to ad­vance to the fourth round in Mel­bourne and was asked about the new piece of jew­ellry. “Well, it’s not com­ing from a lover, if that’s the ques­tion,” she said, laugh­ing. “It’s a gift from a friend,” said the 27-year-old Henin. “I was sur­prised the ques­tion didn’t come ear­lier, ac­tu­ally.”

In late 2007, Henin and her hus­band of five years di­vorced. She stunned the ten­nis world in May 2008 by an­nounc­ing her re­tire­ment while ranked No 1, say­ing at the time she had lost her pas­sion for ten­nis. The re­tire­ment lasted 16 months.

Henin beat No 27 Alisa Kley­banova 3-6 6-4 6-2 in her third-round match yes­ter­day, af­ter los­ing the first set and fac­ing two break points at 1-3 in the sec­ond set. She man­aged to hold that game, hit more win­ners and find her rhythm.

“It’s al­ways good to win this kind of match be­cause I came back from nowhere,” said Henin, who faces fel­low Bel­gian Yan­ina Wick­mayer in the next round. “I’m very happy that I’m still in the tour­na­ment.”

US Open cham­pion Juan Martin Del Potro sur­vived an­other search­ing ex­am­i­na­tion to make his way into the last 16. The Ar­gen­tine fourth seed emerged from a two hour 34 minute dog­fight with Flo­rian Mayer to down the 60th-ranked Ger­man 6-3 0-6 6-4 7-5.

Del Potro will now play 14th seeded Croat Marin Cilic in the fourth round. Cilic qual­i­fied with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Swiss 19th seed Stanis­las Wawrinka. It has been rugged

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