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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Friday, 25 June 2010 14:23 UK

Wimbledon 2010: Henin & Clijsters to meet in round four

Wimbledon Championships
Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July
Coverage:
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Justine Henin

Henin seals impressive Centre Court return

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Justine Henin will play fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in the last 16 at Wimbledon after the pair powered through their third-round matches.

Eighth seed Clijsters swept past Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-3 to continue her smooth progress on her return to the All England Club after four years away.

Henin, the 17th seed, saw off Nadia Petrova 6-1 6-4.

The two Belgians have met twice this year, with Clijsters winning both matches in third set tie-breaks.

"In the two matches we played each other this year, we've brought out the best in each other," said Clijsters.

"I think they've been a little bit up and down level-wise but a high level a lot of the time. Hopefully we can bring that here on Monday."

Kim Clijsters

Clijsters anticipates 'fun' clash with Henin

Henin too was looking forward to resuming their rivalry after a long shared history in the game.

"We grew up at the same time," said Henin. "We arrived at the top at the same time. We almost retired at the same time. We almost came back at the same time. So we are very close.

"But in terms of game, of course, we play different kinds of tennis. Kim is very powerful but she moves very well, and she has big weapons in her game. She's also a real fighter, her attitude is unbelievable.

"I just try to use different things. I have to move forward, I have to be very aggressive if I want to have a chance. I know what I'll have to do."

It is the first time since 2006 that both Henin and Clijsters have been in action at Wimbledon after each of them came out of spells in retirement over the last 12 months.

Clijsters had a midday start on Court Two for her third round match and was in clinical mood from the outset.

She stormed into a 3-0 lead within nine minutes and although Kirilenko, a quarter-finalist at this year's Australian Open, managed to slow the Belgian's progress she never threatened an upset.

The Russian did recover an early break in the second set but Clijsters restored her advantage immediately and wrapped up the win after just 62 minutes.

606: DEBATE

Clijsters, the US Open champion, has been in commanding form throughout the first week, losing just 14 games in her opening three matches.

If anything, her compatriot was in even more dazzling form as she began her match over on Centre Court.

Henin is known for her elegant backhand but it was the forehand in particular that shone as she broke three times to win the first set in 27 minutes.

It was always going to be tough to maintain such a high level but Henin's serve dropped off dramatically, from 81% of first serves made in the first set to 30% at the start of the second.

Petrova went into the match on the wrong end of a 13-2 record against Henin, having lost twice to the Belgian already this year, but the 11th seed was starting to look like she believed until the four-time French Open champion rediscovered her form.

After three break points went begging at 3-2, Henin stepped in and swiped a backhand return away for a clean winner before a quickfire service game had her in the lead once again.

Petrova stuck with Henin until it came time to serve to stay in the match - and a poor volley and a double-fault saw her fall 15-40 down before a backhand floated long on match point.

Henin took the applause of the Centre Court crowd as she left and she will almost certainly be back there on Monday for the showdown with Clijsters.

On the court we both want to win, but the relationship between us is very good

Justine Henin

The pair share a 12-12 record in previous meetings, and Clijsters said: "That's always how I feel when I go out there. It could go either way. I think that just shows in the results we've had against each other.

"You go out there and it's 50/50. But against someone like Justine or Serena, you never know. "You know you have to bring your best if you want to have a chance to win, so that's what I'm going to have to do. You have to try to play your best tennis to beat the best."

And Henin insisted that the two women are now good friends after a frosty relationship in earlier years.

"Our relationship is very good," said Henin. "We can feel we grew up a lot, both of us. I mean, Kim, of course, having a baby, and the distance I took also for two years.

"We had a fantastic time in the Fed Cup tie together (in April). "We are more adults now and we have a lot of respect. Of course on the court we both want to win, but the relationship is very good."



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see also
Live - Wimbledon 2010
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Henin v Petrova as it happened
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Venus Williams through to last 16
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Tired Isner thrashed by De Bakker
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Champion Federer in dominant form
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis


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