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Friday, June 2, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Henin-Hardenne wins wet one in Paris

Today

French Open, 2 a.m., 10 p.m., ESPN2

PARIS — Defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne celebrated her 24th birthday Thursday with a second-round victory at the French Open, overcoming three set points in the second set to beat Anastasiya Yakimova 6-2, 7-5.

Yakimova, a 19-year-old Belarussian, was on the verge of forcing a third set serving at 5-4, 40-love. Henin-Hardenne won the next nine points and closed out the victory when Yakimova hit a wild forehand on match point.

The center-court match was played in a drizzle on another chilly day at Roland Garros, with temperatures again in the 50s.

"We hope for better tennis for everyone," Henin-Hardenne said. "It was difficult to play good tennis today. The ball was just too heavy at the end of the match."

Two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt also won before a rain delay of 1 hour, 50 minutes, which backed up the schedule and forced some play to be postponed or suspended until today. Among those who never took court were defending champion Rafael Nadal, No. 2-seeded Kim Clijsters and No. 12 Martina Hingis.

Henin-Hardenne, seeded fifth, advanced despite losing serve four times and committing 43 unforced errors. She saved one set point with a lob winner, and another with a drop shot that sent Yakimova skidding to one knee, unable to reach the ball.

After the match, fans serenaded Henin-Hardenne with "Happy Birthday."

"I am very, very serious, and any celebration will be calm," the Belgian said. "But it's great to be here in Paris to celebrate my 24th birthday."

She's bidding for her third title in four years.

Hewitt overcame a slow start to beat Mathieu Montcourt 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. The 14th-seeded Hewitt, who has been hampered by calf and ankle injuries, was playing only his third match since early April.

"The ankle is still not 100 percent," Hewitt said. "I've played with pain before, and this is just another case of it."

A two-time quarterfinalist at Roland Garros, Hewitt missed the tournament last year with a rib injury and has played little on clay the past two years. The Australian will next face No. 22 Dominik Hrbaty, who overcame Ivo Karlovic's 31 aces to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 7-5, 6-2.

No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic matched his best showing at Roland Garros, reaching the third round by beating Oscar Hernandez 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2.

In a battle of the ages, No. 25 Gael Monfils beat qualifier Dick Norman 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-0, 7-5. Norman was the oldest man in the Open at 35. Monfils is 19.

No. 9 Fernando Gonzalez was upset by 19-year-old Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1. Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, seeded 19th, lost to Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-4.

"It's been tough for me after Australia — a lot of questions in my head, a lot of doubts," Baghdatis said. "It's not so easy. I think I need some time. I need some experience to find my way through."

No. 7 Tommy Robredo, No. 31 Dmitry Tursunov and qualifier Martin Vassallo Arguello won matches suspended overnight because of darkness.

Arguello, ranked 181st, trailed when his match was halted after three sets but rallied to beat No. 21 Sebastien Grosjean 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

"I feel I deserve it," Arguello said. "I feel I have been fighting a lot, running like a dog."

Grosjean had 87 unforced errors.

Tursunov, a Russian who has lived in California since age 12, eliminated Tim Henman 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Note

• Croatia's Mario Ancic and Chile's Paul Capdeville were fined $3,000 each for their shoving spat after a French Open match. The players were separated by the chair umpire when they argued after the No. 12-seeded Ancic won in the second round Wednesday.

Capdeville complained about several rulings, and he was talking to the chair umpire as the players approached the net to shake hands. Ancic told Capdeville to drop it — and the Chilean said he thought Ancic lunged at him. So Capdeville shoved Ancic, and the chair umpire stepped in.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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