Henin remains hot
Belgian teen reaches third round with easy win
MELBOURNE (Reuters) -- Belgium's Justine Henin reeled her 12th successive victory to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, before declaring injury and personal problems were firmly behind her.
The 18-year-old, rated by many as an outside chance of winning the season-opening grand slam event, comfortably disposed of unseeded Frenchwoman Sarah Pitkowski 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes.
She next faces another Frenchwoman in 14th seed Sandrine Testud.
Henin, the world number 22, won two tournaments in January in the build-up to the Australian Open -- on the Gold Coast and at Canberra.
Her superb form has even made the Australian Open's top two seeds Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport sit up and take notice.
Both have suggested that Henin, who won the junior French Open in 1997, is a real contender at Melbourne Park.
Henin said: "I am happy to have two of the world's best players say that about me.
"Of course, my confidence is very high at the moment.
"I have never played this way before, but I am also very mentally tired, because it is actually difficult to motivate yourself again and again when you have won a couple of tournaments.
"There is too far to go in this event before I can start getting excited."
Henin's mother, Francoise, died of cancer when Henin was 12 years old.
She dedicated her recent win at the hardcourt championships at the Gold Coast to her mother's memory.
Until last year, her father, Jose, used to travel with her on the tennis circuit.
Now she is watched by her coach and her fiancÚ.
"I am not too surprised that I am playing like this," Henin said.
"Last year, I struggled with an arm and a foot injury, but they are out of mind now and physically I feel good.
"I also had personal problems last year which I do not want to talk about. But they have been sorted out, too, and I am happy."
At 1.67 meters (5 ft 5 in) and weighing 57 kg (126 lbs), Henin cannot hope to match with the power generated by the likes of Davenport and the Williams sisters.
But she still has designs on forcing her way to the top of the rankings.
"Martina [Hingis] is not one of the big players, but she is number one in the world, so it must be possible.
"I have other things in my game, like my slice, like my backhand, like the way I play aggressively and am not afraid to go to the net ... that, I hope, will take me a long way."
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