The Belgian world number one's first match of the year had been delayed after she received a first-round bye then a walkover in the second round but she made up for lost time with a superb performance. "That was a good start," Henin told a news conference. "It's never easy the first match of the season because you have to forget about the last season and really get focused on now." She had won the Sydney International on her last two visits to the Olympic tennis centre and went on to make the Australian Open final both times but may have her work cut out after three of the top four seeds reached the semi-finals.Henin's next opponent will be Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, who beat Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-3 3-6 6-2, while Svetlana Kuznetsova is lurking on the other side.
Kuznetsova, the Russian world number two, beat Francesca Schiavone 6-4 6-0 to join Nicole Vaidisova in the semis after the Czech upset third-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic 6-4 4-6 6-4.
"I've had a good preparation and I'm really happy that I managed to win a couple matches and slowly get into it," Ivanovic said.
"It definitely gave me some confidence and going into the Australian Open I definitely feel much better."
While the women's results mostly went according to script, the men's draw has been decimated, with just one seeded player making the quarter-finals.
Czech Tomas Berdych was the only seed to survive by beating Gilles Simon of France 7-6 6-2 while Richard Gasquet, Carlos Moya, Lleyton Hewitt and Fernando Verdasco all lost.
Top-seed Gasquet was beaten 3-6 6-3 6-4 by Russian Dmitry Tursunov, Moya fell to Agustin Calleri of Argentina 6-3 6-4 and Sebastian Grosjean of France beat Spain's Verdasco 6-3 6-4.
However, the biggest surprise was Hewitt's 7-6 7-6 loss to his Australian Davis Cup team mate Chris Guccione, who needed a wild card to get into the tournament.
Hewitt was chasing a record fifth Sydney title but came unstuck against the lanky lefthander ranked 104 places below him.
"He's a dangerous player to play against," Hewitt said.
"He's got one of the best serves in the game, there's no doubt about that, and I think he moves well at the net as well."
Guccione said beating Hewitt was one of the highlights of his career.
"To beat him here in Sydney, where he's won it so many times, yeah, it's pretty high on the scale," he said.