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Federer, Henin-Hardenne win before rainout

Written by: Staff
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NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) Twice defending champion Roger Federer and 2003 winner Justine Henin-Hardenne followed different paths to advance at the US Open before rain washed out the evening session at the season's last grand slam.

American Lindsay Davenport's match against Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik, and fourth-seeded David Nalbandian's game against unseeded 2000 Open winner Marat Safin were rained off yesterday.

More rain is forecast for today.

Top seed Federer was not at his best on a windy, chilly day at Flushing Meadows but still managed to ease past Briton Tim Henman 6-3 6-4 7-5 in a workmanlike second-round match.

Henin-Hardenne, however, needed to recover from a disastrous first set to defeat Japanese 28th seed Ai Sugiyama 4-6 6-1 6-0 before moving on to the fourth round.

Among yesterday's winners were 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and runner-up that year Elena Dementieva, while on the men's side fifth seed James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko (7), Fernando Gonzalez (10), Tommy Haas (14) and Andy Murray (17) advanced.

Top-seed Federer registered only six aces and never seemed to be firing on all cylinders but still proved to be in a different league than the 31-year-old Henman.

''I think the conditions were tough today, breezy, chilly,'' said Federer, who has yet to lose a set in his two matches. ''Henman was trying to kind of break the rhythm, as usual.

''So it makes it hard to really play well and get the good rhythm going. I think it could have been easier but it could also I thought it was a solid match because I didn't give him any chances on my own service games and that's what I wanted to do from the start.'' Federer next meets 84th-ranked American Vince Spadea, who eliminated 29th seed Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden in straight sets.

HOMAGE Blake posted his second successive straight-sets win at the Open, advancing past Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-3 6-4 7-6.

''I was real proud of the way I served. That got me out of trouble, especially in this wind,'' said Blake, who next faces former French Open champion Carlos Moya. ''I feel like I'm playing well.'' The American also registered a striking homage to Andre Agassi, wearing a reproduction of a vintage hot-pink Agassi outfit circa 1990, and blowing kisses and bowing to the crowd in signature Agassi style at the end of his match.

Henin-Hardenne committed an uncharacteristic 17 unforced errors in the first set and squandered a 4-1 lead as Sugiyama broke her serve three times.

But the Belgian found her form in the final two sets to subdue the 31-year-old Japanese without much of a fight.

''I was leading pretty easily in the first set,'' Henin-Hardenne said. ''I didn't have the feeling that I was moving well at the time, and I lost a little bit of my intensity. The conditions were pretty difficult.

''When I lost the first set, I understood I had no more choice than winning the next two, and so be very focused on every point.

Then I played very, very solid tennis.'' Russian Kuznetsova rolled on to the fourth round with a 59-minute 6-3 6-0 whipping of compatriot Anastassia Rodionova.

Next up for the 21-year-old will be 19th seed Jelena Jankovic, who upset ninth seed Nicole Vaidisova 5-7 6-3 6-2.

Dementieva advanced past fellow-Russian Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3 to set up a meeting with unseeded Aravane Rezai of France, who ousted 20th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-1.

REUTERS PM BS0901

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