Ivanovic to square off with Henin in Brisbane semis

January 7th, 2010 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Brisbane, Jan 7 (DPA) Serb Ana Ivanovic has become the next challenge in the 2010 comeback story of Justine Henin as the two former French Open champions meet in the semi-final of the Brisbane International Friday.
Both are vying to return to top form, with one-time number one Ivanovic trying to lift a sagging 21st ranking and Henin returning to the game this week after a retirement in 2008 due to burnout.

Third seed Ivanovic booked her spot in the high-profile showdown as she defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 7-6(6).

The unseeded Henin, four times a champion at Roland Garros, struggled through in three sets, winning a deciding tiebreaker to put out Hungarian Melinda Czink 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5).

Henin lead 4-1 in the third set, missing her chances to run it out. Czink saved three match points in the 11th game to push the third set into a tiebreak and saved another two in the tiebreak before Henin won the match.

“It was a tough match and a good fight. A very good match, a very good level,” said a satisfied Henin. “She went for the winners - there were ups, there were downs.

“I’m in the semis now and I cannot ask for more. It will be very exciting, to play against Ana - it’s a great feeling.”

Henin last reached the final four of an event in Antwerp two years ago next month, three months before her shock retirement from the game at the height of her powers and standing number one in the world.

She is returning to the WTA at age 27 after change of heart and a reassessment of her life and goals.

Henin produced seven aces against Czink, breaking five times while losing her own serve on four occasions.

Ivanovic also had her troubles with Pavlyuchenkova, slipping while up a set and 5-3 before also being forced to win a decider. “I like to do make things hard on myself,” joked Ivanovic.

“She’s a good player who started to step up. I was happy to win in two sets.

“It will be awesome to play Justine,” added Ivanovic, the 2008 Paris champion who has never faced the Belgian. “It will be a good test for me but I have my chances.”

In another women’s match, German underdog Andrea Petkovic upset fourth seed Daniela Hantuchova, 6-4, 6-2.

Men’s second seed Radek Stepanek was tested before advancing into the final over American Wayne Odesnik 7-6 (7-2), 6-1.

“My game was improving every minute,” said the second seed. “I’m draw going one-by-one, step-by-step. I”ll try and go back to back to a final for the second time in Brisbane.”

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