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Clijsters crashes out as Henin continues winning return in Melbourne

Kim Clijsters suffered her worst result on the WTA Tour as she won only one game against Nadia Petrova.
Kim Clijsters suffered her worst result on the WTA Tour as she won only one game against Nadia Petrova.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kim Clijsters crashes out of Australian Open, losing 6-0 6-1 to Nadia Petrova in third round
  • The U.S. Open champion's fellow Belgian Justine Henin battles to beat Alisa Kleybanova
  • Eighth seed Jelena Jankovic knocked out by Alona Bondarenko, ranked 31st
  • World No. 2 Dinara Safina defeats Elena Baltacha to reach the last 16 in Melbourne
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(CNN) -- Kim Clijsters crashed out of the Australian Open on Friday along with eighth seed Jelena Jankovic, but fellow former world No. 1 Justine Henin continued her winning return to tennis.

Clijsters, who stunned the sporting world with victory at the U.S. Open in September three tournaments into her own comeback, was one game away from a whitewash defeat by Nadia Petrova in her worst result as a professional.

The Russian progressed into the last 16 of the decade's opening Grand Slam event with a 6-0 6-1 victory, her first in five meetings with the Belgian.

Clijsters, who committed 26 unforced errors to her opponent's 10, suffered her worst result in Melbourne since her first appearance in the Victoria state capital in 2000. She had reached the semifinals or better in her last five visits.

World No. 19 Petrova won the first set in just 18 minutes as 15th seed Clijsters had no answer to her powerful serve and pace around the court.

"She was good. But, you know, I let her," Clijsters told the event's official Web site. "I made all the mistakes and she didn't really have to do much.

"She served really well and was aggressive in the rallies, but that's because I let her play into the courts. I wasn't feeling the ball well. It sucks."

Petrova, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the fifth time, next faces third-seeded compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the quarterfinals.

Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion, had to come from behind to defeat Germany's world No. 118 Angelique Kerber 3-6 7-5 6-4.

The winner of that Petrova-Kuznetsova match will get to play Henin, who fared better than her compatriot Clijsters on Friday but had to dig deep before beating big-hitting Russian 27th seed Alisa Kleybanova 3-6 6-4 6-2.

She was good. But, you know, I let her. I made all the mistakes and she didn't really have to do much
--Kim Clijsters

Kleybanova, who beat former world No. 4 Jelena Dokic in the first round, led 3-1 in the second set before her 27-year-old opponent rallied to win in two hours and 23 minutes.

It was another strong workout for the seven-time Grand Slam winner, who is playing only her second event since coming out of retirement and who needed three hours to defeat fifth seed Elena Dementieva in the previous round.

She won a total of 96 points to Kleybanova's 90, and had only two fewer unforced errors.

"I'm happy I'm in the fourth round. I kind of survived a little bit today," Henin said. "It's always good to win this kind of match because I came back from nowhere.

"It was so difficult for me after last match. Physically, I suffered a little bit in the last two days. I wasn't feeling the energy enough to be able to compete at my level."

Henin will next play fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, who defeated Italy's Sara Errani 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-3.

The 20-year-old U.S. Open semifinalist is ranked 16th in the world but had to come through the qualifying draw following her title in New Zealand as her ban for an anti-doping sanction was suspended too late for her inclusion in the main field.

Former world No. 1 Jankovic, who reached the semifinals in Melbourne two years ago, was crushed 6-2 6-3 by Ukrainian 31st seed Alona Bondarenko.

The Serbian made 40 unforced errors and served four double-faults as she lost to Bondarenko for the first time in 10 meetings.

"Unfortunately today really wasn't my day," she said. "You know, I was hitting some balls short, and then some balls I went for maybe a little bit too much. I made a lot of errors that I shouldn't have made."

Bondarenko will next play China's Zheng Jie, who upset 11th seed Marion Bartoli of France 5-7 6-3 6-0.

World No. 2 Dinara Safina cruised into the fourth round with a 6-1 6-2 win over unseeded Elena Baltacha of Britain, and will next play fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.

Kirilenko, who knocked out Maria Sharapova in the first round, progressed with a 7-5 7-6 (7-4) victory against Italy's Roberta Vinci.