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Nadal, Roddick take easier path than del Potro

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):

US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro held off James Blake in a marathon five-setter yesterday, while Justine Henin was advancing in her Grand Slam comeback with a win over the reigning Olympic champion.

Fourth-seeded del Potro beat his 30-year-old American rival 6-4, 6-7 (3), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in four hours, 17 minutes on Hisense Arena, the second showcourt at Melbourne Park.

Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Henin, meanwhile, produced the biggest win of her comeback from 20 months in retirement, with a 7-5, 7-6 (6) defeat of fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva in the night match on Rod Laver Arena, the centre court.

Semi-final match-up

The win for the unranked Henin was another step closer to a possible quarter-final match against US Open champion Kim Clijsters, who scored a 6-3, 6-3 win over Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand.

Earlier yesterday, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick continued their paths towards a possible semi-final match-up.

Nadal breezed to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 second-round win over Lukas Lacko of Slovakia, while Roddick was equally untroubled by his opponent in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci.

Britain's Andy Murray, who could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals, advanced to the third round after beating Marc Gicquel of France 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

Roddick booed

The Hisense Arena crowd didn't appreciate Roddick continuing a verbal jousting with Murphy after the match ended, and booed the American.

The former No. 1-ranked Roddick took time to review video after the match, and was conciliatory in a news conference that followed.

"To be fair, I was more wrong than I thought I was out on court," Roddick said. "It was a lot closer than I thought as far as when the call came. I thought I was going to be 100 per cent right."

Nadal, who converted five of his first six break-point chances, had no such dramas.

"I played a serious match. I think I played the match I needed to play," the six-time Grand Slam winner said. "I was playing, moving well in the beginning without mistakes, having control of the ball."