Henin cruises into fourth round at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England &

Justine Henin became the first player to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon, defeating Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-1, 6-3 today in another step toward a possible career Grand Slam.

The top-ranked Henin, who lost to Amelie Mauresmo in last year's final at the All England Club, again played with a long strip of black tape running down the side of her right leg. She said she's been bothered by tendinitis in her right foot.

"I could do very good things during my first three matches," Henin said. "Especially today, I'm very happy the way I played, very aggressive, very consistent."

The match was suspended for more than an hour by rain with Henin leading 3-2 in the second set. When play resumed, Henin broke in the eighth game and then served out the match.

Henin won her third straight French Open title this month, but needs to win at Wimbledon to complete a career Grand Slam. In three rounds so far at this year's tournament, Henin has dropped only 11 games.

"It's good I don't spend a lot of time on the court because physically I really need to rest a little bit," Henin said. "It's going to be good for my next match, I hope."

Security at Wimbledon increased Friday after British police thwarted an apparent car bomb attack in central London. Police discovered a parked car packed with gas containers, nails and a detonator.

"Everyone heard about that," said Henin, who added she wasn't nervous about playing.

Also, No. 15 Patty Schnyder beat No. 24 Alona Bondarenko 6-4, 3-6, 8-6.

Later Friday, top-ranked Roger Federer was scheduled to play in the third round, facing two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin. No. — Andy Roddick and No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez were also to play, while No. 9 James Blake was to face former top-ranked player Juan Carlos Ferrero.

On the women's side, two-time champion Serena Williams and 1997 winner Martina Hingis were to play along with No. — Jelena Jankovic.

Mauresmo, who reached the third round Thursday by beating Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-1, 6-2, said she was happy to stay out of the spotlight at Wimbledon.

After the traditional Centre Court start as the defending champion, the fourth-seeded Frenchwoman played her next match on Court 2.

She likes the change from the pressure of playing Roland Garros.

"To me, it always feels like it's very easy here," said Mauresmo, who was sidelined for about two months following an appendectomy in March and had a groin problem that contributed to a third-round exit at the French Open.

Mauresmo pulled out of the doubles tournament at Wimbledon, saying she didn't want to risk injury while defending her singles title.

Federer needed only 11 minutes to complete his rain-suspended match against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 for his 50th straight win on grass.

The four-time defending champion led 2-0 in the third set before rain halted play. When they resumed Thursday, he finished off Del Potro, winning three straight games before the Argentine held serve.

"It was done quickly like I was hoping, but I was ready to go five sets in case," said Federer, who is trying to become only the second man in the Open era to win five straight titles at the All England Club.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal also won, beating Werner Eschauer of Austria 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, and moved into the third round with No. 4 Novak Djokovic and No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko.

Three-time champion Venus Williams and 2004 winner Maria Sharapova advanced in the women's draw.

Sharapova beat 2006 quarterfinalist Severine Bremond of France 6-0, 6-3 on Centre Court, which is without a roof this year for the first time while a new one is being constructed for 2009.

"It's like someone took the torch from the Statue of Liberty. It's like they took the Arc from the Arc de Triomphe," Sharapova said. "It's my favorite court to play on, but it's definitely so weird, the atmosphere."

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