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Justine Henin wins on competitive return at Hopman Cup

Justine Henin
Henin fears she may not be fully fit for six months

Justine Henin made a successful return from injury with a 6-4 6-4 win over Australia's Alicia Molik on day one of the Hopman Cup in Perth.

Henin, playing her first singles match since suffering an elbow injury at Wimbledon in June, gave Belgium the lead in the mixed team event.

Lleyton Hewitt levelled the tie with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Ruben Bemelmans.

Australia secured victory after Hewitt and Molik beat Henin and Bemelmans 1-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8) in the mixed doubles.

Henin struggled to find her best rhythm against world number 129 Molik but was happy to start her comeback with a win.

"I can't play at 100% yet without pain, but the elbow is getting better," said the 28-year-old former world number one.

It's good to wake up and be injury free - it feels like it's been a long time

Lleyton Hewitt

"A few months ago I didn't know if I was going to be able to come to Australia. I'll need a bit of time probably, to be at my best, but my motivation is high. I just have to be patient."

Henin suffered a partially ruptured ligament in her right elbow after falling at Wimbledon during a fourth-round defeat by compatriot Kim Clijsters.

The Belgian is battling to find her form and fitness ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January.

Henin, runner-up to Serena Williams at last year's Australian Open, is guaranteed to play three singles and three doubles matches at the Hopman Cup.

Hewitt was also making a comeback and was pleased to mark his return from a knee injury with a strong display.

606: DEBATE

"It's good to wake up and be injury free," said the Australian, whose last match was against Bemelmans in the Davis Cup in September.

"It feels like it's been a long time and, at the end of the day, the way I see it is it gives me the best opportunity to go out there and perform.

"I'm just happy to get through in straight sets. Being down break points and getting out of those situations, that's stuff you can't buy. He's a difficult opponent, he's a big ball striker and his backhand's improved since I played him in the Davis Cup last time."

Top seeds Serbia, represented by Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic, begin their Group A campaign against Kazakshtan on Sunday, while British number two seeds Andy Murray and Laura Robson open their Group B challenge on Monday.



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see also
Henin returns after elbow injury
29 Dec 10 |  Tennis
Elbow injury ends Henin's season
18 Aug 10 |  Tennis
Injured Henin will miss US Open
01 Jul 10 |  Tennis
Clijsters hits back to beat Henin
28 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Henin plans 2010 tennis comeback
22 Sep 09 |  Tennis
Henin announces shock retirement
14 May 08 |  Tennis


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