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Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011

Australian Open: Venus Williams & Justine Henin bow out

Australian Open, Melbourne
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 17-30 January
Coverage: Watch on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only) & Eurosport; listen on BBC 5 live sports extra and online; text commentary online; full details

Williams' Australian Open ends after injury

Venus Williams lasted for just seven points in her third-round encounter in the Australian Open before retiring.

Andrea Petkovic won the first game before Williams, with seven Grand Slams behind her, felt the recurrence of a groin muscle injury and pulled out.

Justine Henin had earlier lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 7-6 (10-8).

The Belgian 11th seed, champion in 2004, was outclassed in the first set and wasted a set point in the second as Kuznetsova prevailed in 124 minutes.

"I wanted to win so much and I'm really happy to win," said the 23rd seed.

Meanwhile, top seed Caroline Wozniacki saw off Dominika Cibulkova and 2008 champion Maria Sharapova beat Julia Goerges.

Friday's action on the Rod Laver Arena ended in anti-climactic fashion when Williams, 30, who had never previously retired in a grand slam, was forced to quit when 30-0 down in the second game against her German opponent.

After stretching to the right in an attempt to return service, Williams cried out and clutched her stomach. The injury had been picked up when the American defeated Sandra Zahlavova in her previous match.

The stand-out encounter of the day session saw Kuznetsova hand Henin her earliest exit at a Grand Slam event since Wimbledon 2005.

Former world number one Henin had seen her comeback season derailed when injuring her right elbow at Wimbledon. She did not play again in 2010 - and the problem seemed to affect her against Kuznetsova.

Henin hit 41 unforced errors but fought back gamely after losing the first set.

She twice came from a break down to level the second set and take an increasingly nervous Kuznetsova, who squandered two opportunities to serve out the match, into a tie-break.

The two-time Grand Slam winner could not take advantage of her first three match points, but eventually engineered a fourth bite at the cherry.


And when a Henin forehand landed wide she was able to celebrate only her third win in 19 head-to-head meetings with the Belgian.>

"I'm really pleased with way I played today, especially in the first set," said the 25-year-old. "After that it's tennis, you get nerves, I wanted to win so much and it was a great atmosphere."

Next up for Kuznetsova is French Open champion Francesca Schiavone after she beat Romania's Monica Niculescu 6-0 7-6 (7-2).

The sixth seed cruised through the opener but then had to fight back from 5-2 down in the second set to force a tie-break.

Wozniacki, in her first Grand Slam as world number one, overcame a spirited challenge from Cibulkova to reach the last 16 with a 6-4 6-3 win.

The Dane survived a scrappy opening set as both players struggled to hold on to their serve before breaking to lead 4-2 in the second.

Dominika is a tough player. I lost to her last week so I knew it would be tough. I'm just happy I could pull through

Caroline Wozniacki

She again lost her serve but hit straight back to edge out the dangerous yet increasingly-erratic Slovakian.

Cibulkova produced 31 winners with her powerful groundstrokes but stumbled to 41 unforced errors, while the more steady Wozniacki made just 11 winners but only 11 unforced errors throughout the 92-minute encounter.

The 20-year-old, who conducted a bizarre press conference after her match in which she answered her own questions , will next play the unseeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Vesna Manasieva 6-1 6-3.

Sharapova looked in trouble against Germany's Goerges but came back to take a three-set thriller 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Goerges outplayed the former world number one throughout the first set and pushed her to the limit in the second.

When Sharapova secured two early breaks to start the deciding set, Goerges refused to give in, fighting hard to get one break back and putting the 14th seed under serious pressure. But the Russian kept her composure to serve out the match.

Eighth seed Victoria Azarenka enjoyed a smooth passage to the fourth round with a 6-3 6-3 win against Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa.

China's in-form Li Na awaits the Belarusian next after she thrashed the unseeded Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2 6-1.

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see also
Day five as it happened
21 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Australian Open photos
21 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Aussie Open quotes of the day
21 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Federer marches on in Melbourne
21 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Seed Jankovic falls in Melbourne
20 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis

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