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WORLD SPORT

Henin-Hardenne retains Paris title

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Henin-Hardenne throws her racket in the air in celebration after victory.

PARIS, France -- Justine Henin-Hardenne won her third French Open title when she defeated Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 6-4 on Saturday.

The Belgian fifth seed, who also won the tournament in 2003 and 2005, joined Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles as the only women to have won back-to-back titles at the claycourt grand slam in the professional era.

She also became the first player since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1994 to win the crown without dropping a set.

"I've suffered a lot. I did not sleep well in the past days," a relieved Henin-Hardenne said courtside.

"What made the difference today were the important points and the seventh game in the second set.

"Three titles, it's huge. I join great champions."

Henin-Hardenne began swiftly by breaking Kuznetsova in the first game with a forehand winner.

She tightened her grip on the match further when she opened up a 4-1 lead courtesy of a double-fault from the 2004 U.S. Open champion.

Kuznetsova closed the gap when she too benefited from a Henin-Hardenne double-fault in the sixth game.

But the Russian was unable to get back on level terms and Henin-Hardenne pumped her fists after securing the set when Kuznetsova netted a forehand.

Kuznetsova rose to the challenge in the second, breaking in the second game only for Henin-Hardenne to break back immediately.

The Belgian gained the decisive break in the seventh with a smash and ended Kuznetsova's challenge with a service winner on her second match point after 96 minutes. "I am disappointed because I have not been able to take my chances but Justine had a great match," said Kuznetsova.

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