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Defending champion Justine beaten

Henin-Hardenne grimaces during her defeat by Tathiana Garbin

PARIS, France -- A sluggish Justine Henin-Hardenne had her French Open title ripped from her grasp, as the Belgian suffered the earliest defeat of a women's top seed in the grand slam's history.

Never before had a top seed lost before the third round but, under grey skies, last year's champion slumped 7-5 6-4 to little-known Italian Tathiana Garbin.

It was the shock of the tournament so far and a result which will leave a major question mark over the Belgian's health.

Henin-Hardenne had not played a tournament since early April, having suffered a viral infection.

Sloppy and undisciplined on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Henin-Hardenne blazed 30 unforced errors in the one hour 58-minute match.

World number 86 Garbin should by rights have been outclassed by the player who had won three of the last four grand slam tournaments, but in reality the Italian looked the better player throughout.


Henin-Hardenne hit 10 doubles faults and lost her serve six times. All Garbin had to do was move her around and wait for the error -- a task which was not beyond her as she recorded the best win of an undistinguished career.

"I never played like this before," she beamed courtside. "I am so happy... I mean, she is world number one... this is incredible."

Henin-Hardenne was generous in defeat. "I was really nervous, I wasn't moving well, I was late all the time and I couldn't play my game," she said.

"It is really frustrating. It is hard to come back like this but it's okay, life continues. It was my bad day and her great day."

Meanwhile, third seed Amelie Mauresmo suffered jitters in her match but overcame a mid-match stutter to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-0 4-6 6-1.

The Frenchwoman, one of the favorites after her back-to-back victories in Berlin and Rome in the last month, will be relieved to have reached the third round of her home grand slam.

Earlier, Russia's Nadia Petrova was the first player into the third round after beating Yuliana Fedak 6-0 6-1.

A semi-finalist last year, the eighth seed was never in trouble against the overwhelmed Ukrainian on court two and remains on track for an anticipated fourth round clash with fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva.

Petrova beat Zvonareva in the quarter-finals here last year.

An ill-looking Zvonareva, seeded ten, overcame a sluggish start to oust Spain's Magui Serna 5-7 6-1 6-4.

The only other minor surprise in the women's draw saw 15th seed Silvia Farina Elia of Italy beaten 6-3 3-6 9-7 by American Meghann Shaughnessy.

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