Seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin had been playing the Australian Open final three times in her last four appearances, including last year when the Belgian reached the championship match on her comeback, but this year Svetlana Kuznetsova stopped the former No.1 in the third round and handed Henin her earliest Grand Slam exit since Wimbledon 2005, with a 6-4 7-6(8) win.
Henin seemed affected by an elbow injury which prevented her from playing the second part of the 2010 season, as she made 41 unforced errors. In the second set Henin came back from a break down twice, and gave the 23rd-seeded Kuznetsova a hard time in the tiebreak, but the Russian won on her fourth match point and scored only her third victory over Henin in their 19 meetings.
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki avenged her second round loss to Dominika Cibulkova last week in Sydney, defeating the Slovakian 6-4 6-3 to advance to the fourth round. Wozniacki made equal number of winners and unforced errors (11-11), while Cibulkova outweighed her 31 winners with 41 unforced errors.
Next for Kuznetsova is Francesca Schiavone, and Wozniacki’s next opponent is unseeded Anastasija Sevastova.
As for Maria Sharapova, she screamed off a stiff challenge from Julia Goerges and won the match 4-6 6-4 6-4.