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SYDNEY - Belgium's Justine Henin continued her successful return to professional tennis with a 6-4 6-3 win over Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva at the Brisbane International yesterday.
The former world No 1, playing her first official tournament in 20 months, cruised to victory in the night session to advance to the quarterfinals against Hungary's Melinda Czink.
She was well below the standards that saw her win seven Grand Slam titles, dropping her opening service game in each set and failing to serve out the match, but was satisfied with her progress in just her second match back.
"I feel no pressure. I just want to try my best, play as many matches as possible and build my confidence day after day," she told reporters.
Andy Roddick maintained his steady build-up to this month's Australian Open with a workmanlike 7-6 6-3 second-round win over big-serving Australian Carsten Ball in the men's draw.
Roddick's fellow American James Blake saved three match points and recovered from a service breakdown in the deciding third set to defeat Frenchman Marc Gicquel 6-3 3-6 7-6 in a much tighter daytime match on the Pat Rafter centre court.
Czech Radek Stepanek also survived a close shave before beating Ukrainian qualifier Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jnr 5-7 7-6 6-2 to keep alive his Brisbane title defence, while Czech player Tomas Berdych demolished former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-0 6-1.
In the women's event, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova brushed aside the challenge of Hungary's Agnes Szavay 6-3 6-1 while Czech Lucie Safarova disposed of Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3 6-1 to join top seed Kim Clijsters in the last eight.
The Brisbane tournament, in only its second year, is one of the major lead-up events to the Australian Open in Melbourne from January 18 to 31. - Reuters