Henin-Hardenne loses in 2nd round at French Open
By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
May 26, 2004
AP - May 26, 11:39 am EDT
PARIS (AP) -- Rusty, rattled and still recovering from a viral ailment, top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne lost Wednesday in the second round of the French Open.
The Belgian's bid for a second straight Roland Garros title ended when she was upset by Tathiana Garbin 7-5, 6-4. Henin-Hardenne's departure matched the earliest by a defending women's champion.
``It was a little bit too much pressure for me today,'' she said. ``Life continues. It's a bad day. Tomorrow is going to be better.''
The match was just the second for Henin-Hardenne following a six-week layoff. She was sidelined April 10 by an illness that left her tired and dizzy, and decided just last week she was healthy enough to try to defend the title she won last year.
She said she didn't regret the decision, despite her sluggish, tentative performance.
``I was really nervous,'' Henin-Hardenne said. ``I wasn't moving well; I was late all the time. I couldn't play my game. It's frustrating, but it's the choice I made.''
Henin-Hardenne fell to 26-3 in 2004.
She had won the past two Grand Slam tournaments -- last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. But against Garbin, a 26-year-old Italian ranked 86th, Henin-Hardenne double-faulted 10 times and converted only four of 18 break-point chances.
``It was my bad day, and it was her great day,'' Henin-Hardenne said. ``I wasn't the player I've been the last 12 months.''
The upset opens one half of the draw for No. 3-seeded Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, and it means no Roland Garros rematch between Henin-Hardenne and No. 2 Serena Williams. Their semifinal last year left Williams in tears after she complained about calls, drew jeers from the crowd and lost to Henin-Hardenne.
Garbin kept Henin-Hardenne off balance, driving her into the corners and mixing in well-timed drop-shot winners. And the Italian was repeatedly better on the big points.
Garbin closed the upset with a backhand pass down the line, then sank to her knees grinning. She's into the third round at a major event for the first time since 2000, the year she won her only tournament title.
``I never played like this. I can't believe it,'' she said. ``She's still the first in the world, so I'm just happy to have won today.''
The only other defending champion to lose in the second round was Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, beaten in 1990 by Mercedes Paz.
The match was played in cloudy, cool weather, and light rain fell at the end. Henin-Hardenne fell behind 4-1 and failed to convert her first nine break-point chances, but she rallied and served for the set at 5-4. She double-faulted to lose the game, and serving at 5-6, she double-faulted again and lost at love.
Henin-Hardenne trailed 2-0 in the second set, then won four consecutive games. She double-faulted to lose her serve for 4-all, then double-faulted again in the final game to reach match point.
``During the match I was feeling I could do it,'' Garbin said. ``Keep going, and everything was good. She was missing some, so I get easy balls.''
Garbin will next play Zheng Jie, who matched the best showing by a Chinese woman in a Grand Slam event by reaching the third round when she beat No. 31 Emilie Loit 6-4, 6-1. Li Fang made the third round at the 1992 Australian Open.