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Henin reaches semifinals

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 02:05 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia -

Former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin reached the semifinals in her Grand Slam comeback, beating Nadia Petrova 7-6 (3), 7-5 today to take out the last seeded player in her half of the Australian Open draw.

Henin, unranked and playing on a wild-card entry at Melbourne Park, next will play Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie, who beat Russia's Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-3 to equal her Chinese record for the best run at a major.

"It was difficult to find the energy today," Henin said. "At the end I played much more aggressive tennis.

"I didn't want to go to the tiebreaker. I wanted to close out the match."

The 27-year-old Belgian beat Petrova at the Brisbane International in her first match back on tour Jan. 4 after almost 20 months in retirement.

Henin reached the Brisbane final, where she lost in three sets to fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Petrova helped unblock Henin's path to the semifinals by ousting two reigning major champions on her way to the quarterfinals: Clijsters in the third round and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams ended local hopes of breaking a three-decade drought at the Australian Open.

Federer beat former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 - his 15th straight win against the Australian - and defending champion Williams defeated No. 13 Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-2.

The main story lines after Monday's play: Federer will play Nikolay Davydenko; and 2008 champion Novak Djokovic meets '08 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.

Venus Williams advanced with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win against Francesca Schiavone and will play No. 16 Li Na, who ousted U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3.

Serena, who has won the Australian title each odd-numbered year since beating Venus for the 2003 championship, will play seventh-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who won the last 10 games to beat No. 9 Vera Zvonareva of Russia 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

On the men's side, No. 10 Tsonga had to go five sets for the first time in a career that has spanned 11 Grand Slam events to edge Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (6), 9-7.

Djokovic had a 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 win vs. Poland's Lukasz Kubot, while Davydenko held off No. 9 Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-3, dropping a set for the first time in the tournament. Davydenko is on a 13-match winning streak, including victories vs. both Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, the defending champion, takes on No. 5 Andy Murray tonight.

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