posted on May, 26 2004 @ 01:56 PM
World number one and defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne admitted to rushing her
comeback from glandular fever after crashing out of the French Open on Wednesday. Henin-Hardenne became the first top seed to lose before the third
round in the 79-year history of the women's singles at Roland Garros.
The 21 year old Belgian was defeated 7-5 6-4 at the second-round stage by Italy's Tathiana Garbin and appeared to be suffering from a lack of fitness
caused by the illness which she contracted in April. Henin-Hardenne had struggled past France's Sandrine Testud in the first round, showing only
glimpses of her best form, and she was always on the back foot against Garbin.
She had won the past two Grand Slam tournaments, last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. But against Garbin, a 26-year-old Italian
ranked 86th, Henin-Hardenne double-faulted 10 times and converted only four of 18 break-point chances.
The Italian took the first set in 60 minutes breaking her opponent twice, as the Belgian's normally solid service fell apart, and broke again in the
opening game of the second to go 2-0. The fiesty Henin-Hardenne battled back to 4-2 before the brave Italian levelled to go 4-4 and then held serve
for 5-4. A Henin-Hardenne double fault set up two match points for Garbin but she squandered both with a long forehand and then a netted return. But
she carved out another match point and converted it into the biggest win of her career when she unleashed a blistering backhand pass which left