Blow to Belgian Fed Cup hopes

  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 16 Sep 2003

BRUSSELS: Belgium's double Grand Slam winner Justine Henin-Hardenne has pulled out of November's Fed Cup finals in Moscow.  

Henin-Hardenne, successful in the French and US Open this season, announced her decision at a press conference here yesterday.  

The world number two blamed a foot and back injury for her no-show at the Nov 19-23 finals against Russia, France and the United States.  

However she expects to play in the WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles from Nov 3-9.  

“It all depends on how fast the injury heals,” Henin said. “I am suffering from inflammation in a bone in my lower back which means it's vital that I stop after the Tour Championships. 

“The injury doesn't stop me from playing but it means I cannot train how I would like to.” 

The 21-year-old's withdrawal comes days after her compatriot and world number one Kim Clijsters announced she would not be starring in Moscow. 

The two Belgian tennis stars traded blows in the press last week when Clijsters' camp appeared to accuse Henin-Hardenne, who defeated her in both Paris and New York, of using performance-enhancing drugs. 

This suggestion, dismissed as “ridiculous” by Henin-Hardenne, was subsequently retracted and on Saturday Clijsters' announced she was boycotting the Belgian press.  

n SHANGHAI: Ashley Harkleroad won her second match since May when she gave eighth-seeded Cara Black another early-round defeat by 6-1, 6-4 in the Polo Open yesterday. 

Harkleroad has been nagged by a right elbow injury since reaching the third round at the French Open. The American's only other win in four months was at the US Open. 

Black, winner of two doubles titles this year, saw her singles record fall to 7-10 since May. 

Sixth-seeded Alicia Molik of Australia handily defeated Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-2, 6-3 in the first round at Xian Xia Tennis Stadium, and Dinara Safina of Russia overcame Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5. 

World No. 8 Elena Dementieva and No. 9 Chanda Rubin, the top seeds, received byes into the second round. Dementieva beat Rubin on Sunday to win the Wismilak International in Bali, Indonesia. 

The Shanghai tournament was dealt a blow when No. 4 Jennifer Capriati withdrew because of a shoulder injury. – Agencies 

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