Sharapova vs. Henin suspended at 1 set apiece

PARIS (AP) — Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin have star power and resumes worthy of a Grand Slam final. Instead, they're meeting in the third round of this French Open, and their rainy, windy match was suspended because of darkness while tied at a set apiece Saturday night.

Fans huddled under blankets and umbrellas, and camera flashes popped against the slate sky as the two former No. 1s, owners of a combined 10 major titles, traded strokes in the main stadium.

Four-time French Open champion Henin began well, taking 12 of the first 15 points en route to a 4-0 lead, and she claimed the first set 6-2. That was the 40th consecutive set Henin won at the French Open, tying the tournament record set by Helen Wills Moody from 1926-32.

But Henin's streak ended shortly thereafter, as Sharapova worked her way into the match eventually. The Russian broke Henin's serve for the first time for a 5-3 lead in the second set, then held for 6-3.

With rain falling, and the light fading, tournament referee Stefan Fransson walked on court and called off play for the day.

When they resume, Sharapova and Henin will play what comes down to a best-of-one-set contest for the right to play in the fourth round.

Their nine previous meetings — Henin won six — all came in the quarterfinals or later of tournaments.


NADAL'S PARENTS: Rafael Nadal spoke Saturday about something he never discussed at Roland Garros a year ago — the breakup of his parents' marriage.

After beating former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the fourth round at the French Open, Nadal sat down for an interview with French TV and said: "It was a difficult year for me in 2009. My parents separated, and I picked up knee injuries, then I had an abdominal tear."

His lone loss in 35 career matches at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament came in the fourth round last year, when he was upset by Robin Soderling. This time around, Nadal's fourth-round opponent will be No. 24-seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil.

The four-time French Open champion feared dreary weather might force his third-round match to be suspended overnight, but he managed to beat the rain — and Hewitt.

"I was a little bit worried," Nadal said in Spanish. "I kept looking at the sky, because I really wanted to wrap up this match. I did not want to continue playing this particular match tomorrow. I really want to have tomorrow off to take a break."

He'll get Sunday off, then take on Bellucci on Monday.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has been eliminated by Nadal at Roland Garros four of the past five years. Nadal still gets a special kick out of facing the Australian.

"When I was younger, I watched him on TV," Nadal said. "He was one of my idols."

Nadal won the majority of their many grinding baseline rallies. Points were so long it took nearly 2½ hours to complete three sets.

"He's so tough to play on this surface," Hewitt said. "He's so good at dictating play. He always makes you play so many tough shots."


AMBIDEXTROUS: Jarmila Groth plays tennis right-handed, but she hit several shots with the racket in her left hand to beat Anastasia Rodionova in an all-Australian match in the French Open's third round.

After her 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 victory Saturday, the 107th-ranked Groth, the last wild card left in the tournament, explained that she is ambidextrous, able to "do anything with left or right; either way" — from eating, to shooting a basketball, to kicking a soccer ball.

"So to play a left-handed shot, it's kind of normal for me to do," she said.

The reason? Groth was born about a month prematurely, weighing about 2½ pounds, and as a baby couldn't use the right side of her body.

"I was losing weight," said the 23-year-old Groth, who was born in Bratislava, Slovakia, and was granted Australian citizenship last year after she married tennis player Samuel Groth. "They didn't give me a big chance to survive."

Her parents did what they could to try to help their newborn develop the right side of her body, mainly through massage. Eventually, things improved, but the situation led her to develop her left side first.


AP Sports Writer Steven Wine and Associated Press Writer Sam Petrequin contributed to this report.