Positive Henin stays on track

Updated: 19 January 2011 07:53 IST

An upbeat Justine Henin was looking further ahead than the Australian Open after she turned in a confident display to down Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-3 in

Positive Henin stays on track

An upbeat Justine Henin was looking further ahead than the Australian Open after she turned in a confident display to down Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-3 in the second round on Wednesday.

The 11th-seeded Henin, who took the Australian title in 2004, served beautifully throughout and punished any loose deliveries from her opponent to completely control the second round encounter.

The former world number one only returned to tennis in January 2010 after a 20-month retirement, reaching the final in Melbourne last year before falling to Serena Williams in three tough sets.

However, her comeback was stalled after she hurt elbow ligaments in a fall during her Wimbledon fourth round loss to fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, ruling her out for the rest of the year.

The reflective Belgian said every time she won a match, it helped her prepare for the long year ahead.

"I need more matches. It's one more match and that's always good to have the opportunity to play more matches," she said.

"It's not only about the Australian Open, it's not only about 2011, it's about a few years that I want to build this second career.

"I would say it was very hard last year. I hope this year I'll get the confidence step by step. I'm working hard. I do everything I can, so I think I'm (heading) in the right direction."

Henin came into the Australian Open with questions still being asked about her fitness and she struggled in her first round win over Sania Mirza, taking over two hours to beat the Indian in three sets.

But against Baltacha she was never in trouble, dominating the first set before working slightly harder in the second to see off the 55th-ranked Briton in 61 minutes.

"I think on Monday (against Mirza) it was pretty good in terms of it was a good fight and she put under a lot of pressure," Henin said.

"Today I was more in control during the whole match."

Henin said cold conditions in Melbourne were not helping her troublesome elbow loosen up and stop hurting, and she was seen massaging it a number of times when changing ends.

"The weather doesn't help, that's for sure, so I wasn't feeling at my best today," she said.

"But I have to deal with it and get ready, be focused on your game, even if it's not easy -- but I did a good job about that."

Henin now takes on dual Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the third round.

"I think she remains a great player and physically she has a lot of qualities, big forehand, great serve," she said. "So I know I'll have to be at my best to win that one."

Topics : Tennis
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