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Sharapova to face Henin at French Open

PARIS - So much has transpired in the nearly 21/2 years since Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin last played each other.

Sharapova needed right shoulder surgery and was off the tour for 10 months, then missed time with a right elbow injury. Henin abruptly announced her retirement and stayed away for 20 months, then returned, happier off the court and, so far, almost as good on it.

The two former No. 1s, owners of a combined 10 major singles titles, set up an attention-worthy showdown in the French Open's third round Saturday by wrapping up matter-of-fact victories on a sun-soaked, busy Friday.

"Comes very early, of course, third round," Henin said. "But I feel ready for it."

Relentless rain Thursday created a backlog of matches, meaning that nearly every big name in tennis was swinging a racket somewhere around Roland Garros a day later. Both Williams sisters; Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal; Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt - all played and won.

The only upset of real significance came when defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova lost, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, to 30th-seeded Maria Kirilenko in a third-round match that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours.

With so many other top players still around, some must start facing each other. Four-time French Open champion Nadal meets past Wimbledon and U.S. Open winner Hewitt on Saturday. That is scheduled to be followed in the main stadium by Sharapova vs. Henin.

Henin eliminated 79th-ranked Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova wasn't challenged much in a 6-3, 6-3 victory, hers coming against 71st-ranked Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.

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