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Justine Henin, Zheng Jie through to Australian Open semifinals

Zheng Jie at the 2010 Australian OpenJustine Henin at the 2010 Australian Open

Former world number one Justine Henin, playing only her second tournament since coming back to the WTA Tour and her first Grand Slam since the 2008 Australian Open, beat 19th seed Nadia Petrova to reach the semifinals at the Melbourne Park. The Belgian’s opponent in the last four will be second-time Grand Slam semifinalist China’s Zheng Jie, one of the most responsible players for putting China on a tennis map.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion Henin, a wildcard in Melbourne, had to dig deep to beat Nadia Petrova 7-6(3) 7-5. Both players struggled to hold serve, but it was Petrova who made 41 unforced error to Henin’s 26. Nevertheless, Petrova’s 2010 Australian Open run will be remembered, as she took out third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 15th seed Kim Clijsters out of the tournament.

Unseeded Zheng Jie advanced by stopping Russia’s Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Kirilenko had an astounding tournament, but in the match against Zheng she was always a step behind, and the fact that her thigh was heavily strapped didn’t help either. We should note that Kirilenko played singles, doubles and mixed doubles during the tournament, and she’s still alive in the doubles competition, partnered with Agnieszka Radwanska.

The remaining semifinalists will be known after the Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka and Venus Williams vs. Li Na matches are finished. (photos via Australian Open)

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