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Tennis: Henin-Hardenne Advances to Semi-finals of Family Circle Cup

Top seed and defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium has easily advanced to the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup women's clay-court tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina.

Henin-Hardenne blew past seventh-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia, 6-4, 6-1.

In the semifinals, the Belgian player takes on third seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, who easily dismissed eighth-seeded Nathalie Dechy of France, 6-love (0), 6-3 late Friday.

Second seed Nadia Petrova of Russia made short work of Catalina Castano of Colombia, beating the unseeded player in straight sets, 6-2, 6-love. In the semifinals, Petrova plays German Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who ousted former U.S. Open winner and fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia (6-3, 7-6).

The tournament is being played outdoors on green clay courts at the Family Circle Tennis Center. The winner takes home $196,900.

In other clay-court play, American Paul Goldstein and Jurgen Melzer of Austria have advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Clay Court tennis championships in Houston, Texas.

Goldstein, the seventh seed, defeated Albert Montanes of Spain in straight sets (6-3, 6-4). In the final four, Goldstein takes on Melzer, who ousted Fernando Vicente of Spain (7-5, 6-4).

Later, top seed Andy Roddick of the United States plays fifth-seeded German Tommy Haas. The winner of that match meets the winner of a quarterfinal between Americans Mardy Fish and Vince Spadea.

Meanwhile, Russia's Marat Safin has knocked second seed Gaston Gaudio out of the quarterfinals of the Valencia Open clay-court tennis tournament in Spain.

Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open champion, beat Gaudio, the 2004 French Open winner, out of the tournament in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. The Russian takes on Spain's Nicolas Almagro, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Filippo Volandri of Italy.

Meanwhile, Gilles Simon ousted Andreas Seppi of Italy in straight sets (7-6, 7-6). Simon faces seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain a three-set winner over compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (6-7, 6-4, 6-3).

The red-clay tournament is one of several events players are using to prepare for the second major tournament of the year, the French Open, which starts next month in Paris.

Some information for this report provided by AP.