Justin Henin-Hardenne, the world's No. 1 player, said yesterday that she would defend her French Open title even though she hasn't fully recovered from a viral infection.
"It is evident that I am still not at 100 percent, but, in any case, I feel ready," she said. "I leave for Paris with one clear objective. That is to win my first match."
The French Open starts Monday, and the Belgian has been trying to get in top shape over the last month. In mid-April, she came down with a virus similar to energy-sapping glandular fever and hasn't played a competitive match since then. She has practiced at her home in the southern Belgian town of Wepion with fitness trainer Pat Etcheberry.
His punishing drills provided the breakthrough. Last week, she rated her chances of participating in the French Open at 60 percent.
"The arrival of Pat allowed me to test myself," she said. "When I saw I could handle what he made me do, it gave me confidence."
* DAVIS CUP: Charleston, S.C., will host the U.S. team's semifinal against Belarus in September.
It's the first time Davis Cup matches will be played in South Carolina, where a formal announcement will be made today. The surface will be a slow, hard court.
The U.S. team is expected to be led by U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick and the top-ranked doubles team of twins Bob and Mike Bryan. They were on the squad that beat Sweden, 4-1, in the quarterfinals last month in Delray Beach, Fla. Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov led Belarus past Argentina, 5-0.
Spain's tennis federation announced last week that the Mediterranean resort city of Alicante will host its semifinal against France. A court will be set up in a bullring. If the U.S. team wins in September, it would host France or travel to Spain for December's final.
* RAIFFEISEN GRAND PRIX: Greg Rusedski lost to Austrian Juergen Melzer, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) in St. Poelten, Austria, in his first match since being cleared of drug charges.
Rusedski, who reached the second round in St. Poelten in 1996, looked sluggish after leaving the tour following the Australian Open to defend a doping charge.
He was cleared in March when he proved he unwittingly took contaminated energy drinks provided by ATP Tour trainers at a tournament in 2003.
Melzer, who plays Russian Igor Andreev next, led four Austrians into the second round of their hometown event, the most in the tournament's history. The others are Stefan Koubek and wild cards Julian Knowle and Daniel Koellerer.
* WIEN ENERGIE GRAND PRIX: Daniela Hantuchova beat Croatian qualifier Silvja Talaja, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, in Vienna. Martina Navratilova and Lisa Raymond easily advanced in doubles.
Navratilova and Raymond got past Bryanne Stewart and Samantha Stosur, 6-2, 6-4, to make the next round.