MELBOURNE, Jan 21, 2011 (AFP) - Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova upset former champion and ex-world number one Justine Henin 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday.
Kuznetsova reacts during her match against Justine Henin on January 21, 2011. AFP
The 11th-seeded Henin was one of the tournament favourites but she was never in front against two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova, despite some late stumbles from the Russian in a thrilling second-set tiebreak.
Henin had reached at least the fourth round of all Grand Slams she has contested since her return to tennis in January 2010, following an aborted retirement.
She last failed to reach the last 16 of a major at Wimbledon in 2005 and this is only the second time she has failed to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open in her nine appearances since 2000.
Kuznetsova had looked on track for a comfortable win when took the first set and broke the Belgian early in the second, until she had an attack of nerves when serving for the match.
The Russian was broken when serving at 5-4, then broke Henin straight back only to crack once again serving at 6-5.
The tiebreak swung back and forth, first Henin getting the advantage and then Kuznetsova. The Russian brought up two match points at 6-4 but Henin saved them a powerful forehand and then a swinging serve.
Kuznetsova had another chance at 8-7 but Henin blasted another big serve to save it, only to then serve a double-fault to hand the Russian her fourth chance.
This time Kuznetsova made no mistake as she hit a ball deep in the court and watched as Henin's forehand reply sailed wide.
"I got tight on my serve at 5-4 and 6-5," she explained.
"There was so much tension and nerves -- I wanted to win so much."
Kuznetsova, winner of the US Open in 2004 and at Roland Garros in 2009, is making her 10th straight appearance at the Australian Open and has now reached the fourth round or better in six of the last seven years.