Henin beat Kleybanova in Australian Open third round
MELBOURNE: Former world number one Justine Henin came from a set and 3-1 down to overhaul Russian 27th seed Alisa Kleybanova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday.
The 27-year-old Belgian, playing her first Grand Slam since coming out of retirement, battled for two hours and 20 minutes before overcoming the powerful Kleybanova.
It was Henin''s second marathon match in succession following her win over Elena Dementieva in almost three hours in the second round, with the five hours spent on court surely taking their toll as she heads into the fourth round.
Henin showed all her trademark fighting qualities against Kleybanova, who was just as tenacious as the seven-time Grand Slam winner and matched her for most of the three sets.
Kleybanova began superbly, using her booming big serve to great advantage and pressuring Henin''s serve at every opportunity.
Henin eventually cracked and dropped her second service game to go behind, and although she had chances to break back later in the set, Kleybanova held firm to take the first set.
The Russian didn''t ease off, breaking Henin in the opening game of the second set and jumping out to a 3-1 lead.
But Henin began to look more and more dangerous as her one-handed backhand began to find its range and she broke Kleybanova to even the set at 3-3, then struck again while leading 5-4 to tie the match up at one set apiece.
It was then the turn of the Belgian to come out firing as she skipped away to a 3-0 lead.
A third set whitewash seemed on the cards until Kleybanova dug deep, breaking back then holding her serve to get back to 2-3.
But Henin came again and this time there was nothing Kleybanova could do to halt her momentum as the 2004 champion won the next three games to take the match and set up a fourth round clash with countrywoman Yanina Wickmeyer.
Unseeded Wickmeyer won her way into the fourth round with a tough 6-1, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 win over Italy''s Sara Errani.