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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Henin-Hardenne sees off Sharapova
Justine Henin-Hardenne celebrates beating Maria Sharapova
Justine Henin-Hardenne used her superior claycourt game to outclass second seed Maria Sharapova and reach the semi-finals of the French Open.

The 2003 champion, seeded 10 this year after a long lay-off, broke once to take a closely-fought first set 6-4.

And although she dropped serve midway through the second, she broke the Wimbledon champion three further times for a 6-4 6-2 victory.

In the last four, she will play Nadia Petrova, who beat Ana Ivanovic 6-2 6-2.

Sharapova began brightly and tried to take the game to her opponent with a serve-and-volley tactic.

But Henin-Hardenne, who had endured a three-and-a-half-hour marathon in her fourth win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday, soon worked her way into the match.

Sharapova kept tabs until 3-3 in the first set but then began to wobble under increasing pressure from the Belgian.

And once Henin-Hardenne took the first set, it seemed the Russian had run out of ideas, losing her serve three times in the second.

"I wanted to force her to play the maximum of balls and not to give her the same two balls in a row. I mixed it up and that really bothered her," said Henin-Hardenne.

Despite being 10th seed, the Belgian will be a hot favourite against seventh seed Petrova, whom she beat in three sets at the German Open earlier this month.

"The trap for me would be to think that the easy part is over - that's just not the case," said Henin-Hardenne.

Nadia Petrova
Petrova reached the last four at Roland Garros for the second time

"I have won so many matches on clay in the last few weeks and I want to go all the way."

In her last eight match, Petrova benefitted from the inexperience of 17-year-old Ivanovic, who was overawed in her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

It is Petrova's second semi-final in three years at Roland Garros although she has never won an event on the WTA Tour.

The Russian, who has suffered a series of injuries since then, said she would be better prepared than she was in 2003, when she lost to Kim Clijsters.

"It is different this time as I have more experience and more self belief. I am a calmer person on the court," she said.

"I feel like I am on the same level to compete with anyone at the moment."

Highlights: Henin-Hardenne v Sharapova

Interview: Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne

Interview: Second seed Maria Sharapova

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