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Henin-Hardenne powers into Dubai final

Written by: Staff

DUBAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) Justine Henin-Hardenne kept on track for her third Dubai Open crown, defeating Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 7-5 to reach tomorrow's final.

The 23-year-old Belgian, who also captured the title in 2003 and 2004, now meets holder Lindsay Davenport or third seed Maria Sharapova.

On another rain-affected day, fourth seed Henin-Hardenne took a total of five hours to eventually claim victory.

Henin-Hardenne dominated the first set before Kuznetsova rallied strongly in the second, taking a 2-0 lead.

The Belgian, however, was more consistent and caught out the unseeded Kuznetsova several times with her change of pace.

Henin-Hardenne broke serve in the third and fifth games to go 3-2 up.

Kuznetsova showed her fighting qualities by saving four break points at 4-4 but then made a costly error at 5-5 with a poor drop shot that her opponent put away to break serve.

In delayed quarter-final matches played earlier today, Kuznetsova ended Amelie Mauresmo's 16-match winning streak by overcoming the top seed 7-6 6-4.

Russian Sharapova avenged her recent defeat in Tokyo by Martina Hingis, winning 6-3 6-4.

American Davenport came from behind to beat unseeded Russian Maria Kirilenko 4-6 6-2 6-3 and Henin-Hardenne put out Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-4 7-6.

Reuters PDS VP0030

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