Sony Ericsson C'ships: Henin begins title defense

Updated: 08 November 2007 18:27 IST

Justine Henin began her title defense at the Sony Ericsson Championships with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory against Anna Chakvetadze on Tuesday.

Sony Ericsson C'ships: Henin begins title defense
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Spain:

Justine Henin began her title defense at the Sony Ericsson Championships with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory against Anna Chakvetadze on Tuesday.

The top-ranked Henin cruised through the first set then rallied to take the tiebreaker over the seventh-ranked Russian - making her first appearance at the WTA Tour's season-ending championships - in the first match of round-robin play in the yellow group.

"The first match and the final I won (here) last year are very different. But I feel very comfortable here," Henin said.

"Being here this week is really motivating and I'm very happy. It reminds me of many things but I try to live in the present because it is absolutely different from next year."

Maria Sharapova returned from a near three-week absence to beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 7-5 in the red group. It was the sixth-ranked Russian's first win since August 31.

Sharapova broke her ninth-ranked opponent in the ninth game before holding serve to take the first set. She then held off a late rally in the second and converted her fifth match point to secure her sixth straight win against Hantuchova.

In the other red group match later Tuesday, second-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova looked to snap a two-match losing streak against No 3 Ana Ivanovic.

Henin, who trailed 2-0 to start the second set, hit a backhander to the corner to take a 4-3 lead in the tiebreaker before serving out for the win.

Chakvetadze, who withdrew from Quebec City last week with a right shoulder injury, looked rusty with 30 unforced errors and Henin broke twice to take the first set.

Double-faulted

Chakvetadze improved in the second and Henin double-faulted to give the Russian an early break in a back-and-forth set.

Both players had trouble with the other's strong ground strokes and Henin, the French and U.S. Open champion, rallied with consecutive breaks to tie it at 3-3.

After trading breaks again to reach the tiebreaker, Chakvetadze hit into the net on the first match point as Henin improved to 3-0 against her.

Sharapova has been hampered by a shoulder injury since the US Open, and had not played since losing to Belarus' Victoria Azarenka in the third round at Moscow.

Hantuchova started the second set best, getting a break in the first game. But Sharapova broke right back with a crosscourt winner from the baseline to take command.

Topics : Tennis
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