KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Justine Henin, playing in her first tournament in almost two years with an official WTA Tour ranking, advanced to the second round of the Sony Ericsson Open Wednesday by beating Jill Craybas 6-2, 6-2.
Henin double-faulted five times Wednesday and struggled with inconsistent groundstrokes, but she saved seven of eight break points while converting five of six. Henin is ranked No. 33 on the WTA Tour computer after competing in her third tournament earlier in the year in Indian Wells, Calif., making her eligible for a ranking. She reached the finals of Brisbane and the Australian Open, losing to Kim Clijsters and Serena Willliams, respectively. She lost in the first round of Indian Wells to Gisela Dulko.
Henin, a former No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion, is mounting a comeback this year after a 20-month retirement. She’ll play fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva in the second round Friday.
Henin and Dementieva played an epic second round of the Australian Open earlier this year, won by Henin 7-5, 7-6 (5).
“I realize it’s gonna take a little bit of time to really be in the good rhythm and find myself again on the court, and I have to get used to different kind of things,” Henin said.
“I didn’t live this life for almost two years, so that takes a little bit of time.”
Henin will face a stiffer second-round test from Dementieva. Henin said she is looking forward to the match to find out where she is with her game.
“Now I’m going to have a tough round, tough match,” Henin said. “That’s what I want. So it’s going to be perfect to test myself.”
Seeded players had a first-round bye.
Making her first appearance in Miami since 1996, 39-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan earned a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Anna Chakvetadze of Russia.
Date Krumm, who retired from the tour in 1996 and started to play again in 2008, spent 2 hours, 32 minutes on the court in beating Chakvetadze.
Chakvetadze saved two match points she faced while serving at 2-5 in the third set and broke Date’s serve in the next game. The Russian lost the match, dropping her serve at love in the final game.
“In the beginning, everybody said (it was) impossible to come back on the tour,” said Date Krumm, who lost the 1995 final in Key Biscayne to Steffi Graf on March 25, 1995.