LONDON -- Justine Henin-Hardenne buried memories of her shock exit last year with a ruthless 6-0, 6-1 win over China's Yuan Meng in the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Martina Hingis also swept into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukrainian teenager Olga Savchuk while Kim Clijsters struggled.
Henin-Hardenne, who was beaten in the opening
round here 12 months ago, showed no mercy to an opponent making her debut at the grass-court Grand Slam.
"I played well, very consistent, pretty aggressive," said
the third seed, who had warmed up for the tournament by winning
the Eastbourne title on Saturday.
"That's the kind of match you need in your first rounds."
The French Open champion had more problems by the slippery
conditions on Centre Court than she was by Yuan's challenge.
At 3-0 up in the first set, she tripped up while attempting
a volley and grimaced in pain, clutching her back.
But the scare lasted only a few seconds and she was quick to
get back on to her feet and continue her pummelling of Yuan.
After wasting two set points with successive double faults,
Henin-Hardenne sealed the first set with a glorious
backhand crosscourt winner.
With Henin-Hardenne threatening to run away with the match
at 4-0 up in the second, Yuan, ranked 99, finally registered a
game after 46 minutes to draw loud cheers from the packed Centre
The reprieve was short-lived and Henin-Hardenne ended Yuan's
ordeal with a backhand volley.
Having avoided a repetition of last year's mishap, the
five-time grand slam champion was quick to turn her thoughts to
completing her collection of major titles by triumphing at the
All England Club.
"I would love to take a place in history," said the
24-year-old, who was runner-up to Venus Williams in 2001.
"I can dream about that for sure but ... a Grand Slam is
very long. I know I have possibilities to win this tournament,
and I will have to work hard and stay focused."
Hingis, revelling in a comeback that has already taken her
to the quarterfinals of the Australian and French Grand Slams,
showed all her old deftness of touch with some exquisite drop
shots that left Savchuk flat-footed.
It was Hingis' first appearance at Wimbledon in five years. Last time she got knocked out in the first round by Spain's Virginia Ruana Pascual.
Now the 12th seeded Hingis, who won Wimbledon just three
months short of her 17th birthday in 1997, is clearly in
love with her tennis again, and she beamed to an appreciative
crowd as she left Court 2.
Clijsters, seeded No. 2, advanced with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Vera Zvonareva.
The Belgian second seed had been 5-4 up when rain halted
play after 35 minutes on Monday and was caught cold on
resumption, immediately dropping her serve.
But she quickly found her stride to gain the break back and
bagged the set with a volley winner.
Despite grabbing a 3-0 lead in the second, Clijsters was
broken when she was serving for the match but made sure of
victory in the next game when Zvonareva slammed a forehand into
the net after 88 minutes.
Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrated her 21st birthday with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Italian qualifier Romina Oprandi.
The fifth seed and French Open runner-up made good use of
her power on a green court two.
Kuznetsova rattled down five aces in the first set and,
after saving break points on her own serve, broke Oprandi to
lead 3-2 before completing a comfortable 57-minute victory.
In the second round she plays Czech Kveta Peschke who beat
Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-0.
China's Li Na thrashed France's Virginie Razzano 6-2,
6-0. Li is the first Chinese player to be seeded in a Grand Slam