TENNIS / Henin rallies past Loit in Gaz de France tournament

Pattaya: Top seed Marion Bartoli of France crashed out of the Pattaya Open on Thursday, outplayed by Slovakia's Martina Sucha.

Bartoli lacked consistency against Sucha, losing 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after an unconvincing first-round win over Nuria Llagostera Vives on Tuesday.

The result is a further disappointment for Bartoli, who finished last season on a high by claiming her third title of the year with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Russia's Olga Poutchkova in Quebec City. This year she has won just three out of eight matches.

Nakamura ousted

Tzipora Obziler of Israel came back from a set down to upset eighth-seeded Aiko Nakamura of Japan 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in a second round match on Thursday at the Pattaya Women's Open.

Australian Nicole Pratt meanwhile extended her impressive run with a 6-2, 6-4 second round win over American teenager Vania King on the tournament's fourth day of play.

In another second round match, sixth-seeded Gisela Dulko of Argentina advanced to the final eight with a walkover win when Alicia Molik of Australia had to retire due to a right hamstring injury.

Pratt, 33, has participated in the tournament in the seaside city for many years but never previously survived beyond round two.

``I served pretty well, which put her under pressure,'' she said of her match against King. ``She attacked the balls early, but that helped me. I was a bit sharper. The longer the rallies, the more things went my way,'' said the Australian, who will play Dulko in the quarterfinal.

At Paris, world No. 2 Justine Henin was made to battle in her first match of the year, coming back from a set down to beat Emilie Loit of France 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the Open Gaz de France on Wednesday.

Loit, a quarterfinalist last year, took advantage of the rust by breaking Henin in the eighth game and serving out for the first set. Stung, Henin sped 3-0 ahead and charged the net to break Loit in the last game of the second set to start the final set on serve. She completed her first appearance at the Gaz de France in five years with 14 aces.

The results:

At Pattaya: (WTA Pattaya Open): Second round: Tzipora Obziler bt Aiko Nakamura 3-6, 6-1, 6-1; Martina Sucha bt Marion Bartoli 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Gisela Dulko bt Alicia Molik w/o.

At Paris: WTA-Open Gaz de France: Second round: Dinara Safina bt Camille Pin 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5); Justine Henin bt Emilie Loit 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Svetlana Kuznetsova bt Katarina Srebotnik 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(4); Anna Chakvetadze bt Anabel Medina 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Agencies

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper