A leg injury has forced Justine Henin to withdraw from this week's Sydney International, after the former world No1 strained a muscle during her epic loss to fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in the final of the Brisbane International yesterday.
Henin, competing in her first tournament since coming out of a 20-month retirement last month, said she would rest the leg for a few days in Brisbane before flying to Melbourne for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season, which starts on January 18.
The withdrawal robs Sydney organisers of the chance of a second round match up between Henin and No1 Serena Williams.
Earlier, in the final in Brisbane, Clijsters survived two match points before winning her eagerly awaited rematch with Henin 6-3, 4-6, 7-6.
The pair, who have been rivals since they were 12 and are both in the early stages of comebacks, slugged it out for almost two-and-a-half hours in a wildly fluctuating match at the Pat Rafter Arena. At different times, both players looked to have the match at their mercy, but it took a final set tiebreak to split them after a tantalising warmup to next week's Australian Open.
"What a match," said a visibly ecstatic Clijsters afterwards. "We set the bar pretty high for ourselves for the rest of the year. Justine played at a really high level for the whole tournament, so congratulations."
Meanwhile, second seed Marin Cilic overpowered Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-finals to stay on course for a second straight Chennai Open crown. The world No14 dismantled his fourth seeded opponent in only 84 minutes.
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