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Battling Henin joins 500 club

Justine Henin reached a special milestone at the Australian Open today when she beat Russia's Alisa Kleybanova 3-6 6-4 6-2. It was the Belgian's 500th career win, putting her in an elite club of tennis professionals.

Henin would have reached the landmark a lot earlier if she had not decided to suddenly quit the sport in 2008 when she was the No1 player in the world.

Then again, she might never have made it at all had Kim Clijsters not won last year's US Open, inspiring Henin to join her fellow Belgian in making a comeback.

Henin's win over Kleybanova was not her best performance at Melbourne Park this week but enough to thrust her into the fourth round against Yanina Wickmayer, another unseeded Belgian.


Henin would have to win another four matches to claim the title but the question is already being asked. Can she possibly win the Australian Open in her second event out of retirement just as Clijsters did in New York?

"It's a big challenge to come back and I think I love challenges. That's the way I am," Henin said.

Her next opponent, Wickmayer, could provide some of the answers. Wickmayer sealed her place in the fourth round with a 6-1 6-7 6-3 win against Italy's Sara Errani and will provide Henin with a stern test.

Wickmayer made the US Open semi-finals last year and is ranked 16 in the world but was overlooked for the seedings and forced to come through qualifying because she was under suspension when the registrations for the Australian Open closed.

Dinara Safina and Maria Kirilenko also won today and will now play each other in an all-Russian fourth-round clash on Sunday. Like the Belgians, the Russians are on the march.

Safina, world No2, defeated Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-1 6-2 in less than an hour. Kirilenko matched her best performance at a grand slam when she defeated Italy's Roberta Vinci 7-5 7-6, showing that her first round win over Maria Sharapova was no fluke.

Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko also advanced, beating Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-3 and extending the former world No1's poor run in grand slams over the past 19 months.

Scotland's Andy Murray is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating Florent Serra of France 7-5 6-1 6-4.

Murray is attempting to win his first Grand Slam tournament and become the first British man in more than 70 years to win a singles major.

The 22-year-old is a win away from a potential quarter-final match against defending champion Rafael Nadal.

Andy Roddick recovered from a set down to defeat Spain's Feliciano Lopez 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-6 and advance to the fourth round.

Lopez, who had never beaten Roddick in five previous meetings, saved two match points in the fourth set tie-break, one of which incensed the American after camera views showed the Spaniard had reached over the net to put away a volley.

The seventh-seeded Roddick held firm, however, and sealed the tie-break 7-3 and the match in sweltering conditions at Rod Laver Arena after the Spaniard netted.

The American will next face Chilean Fernando Gonzalez after the 11th seed defeat Kazakhstan's Evgeny Korolev in five sets, 6-7 6-3 1-6 6-3 6-4.