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Henin-Hardenne into final at US Open


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Five-time Grand Slam champ Justine Henin-Hardenne survived a scare from World No 20 Jelena Jankovic on Friday, posting a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 come-from-behind win to reach the US Open final.

Henin-Hardenne will play the winner of a match between France's Amelie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova of Russia for the Grand Slam title.

The Belgian second seed has made it to all four Grand Slam finals this year but she almost threw this semi-final away by serving up 12 double faults and making 39 unforced errors.

Both players came into Friday's semi-final with an injury as Henin-Hardenne was complaining of a sore rib and Jankovic a bad back.

A heavy underdog going into the match, the 21-year-old Jankovic came out with more intensity, surprising the 2003 US Open champ by stepping up her attack on big points.

She closed out some long rallies with flash backhands and clinically sliced drop shots which brought cheers from the crowd and a big smile to her face.

In the first two sets neither player could hold serve, especially Henin-Hardenne who had her serve broken six times by Jankovic, who advanced further in a US Open than ever before.

In the third set Henin-Hardenne started to hold serve for the first time in the match. That spelled trouble for Jankovic appeared to lose her nerve, and was no longer able to win the long rallies or dictate points.

Henin-Hardenne finished it off by winning the final 10 games of the match.

"I feel lucky to be in final, but I did fight a lot," she said.

"She put a lot of pressure on me and had a lot of motivation. That maybe would have been the kind of match I would have lost a year ago."

gph/ak

Tennis-USA-Open-Henin

AFP 081958 GMT 09 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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