By Steve Keating
TORONTO, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Justine Henin may have lost some fitness during a month's layoff but none of her trademark tenacity as she battled into the quarter-finals of the Toronto Cup with a 7-5 6-2 win over China's Peng Shuai on Thursday.
Joining the world number one in the final eight at the $1.3 million tournament are second seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic, a four-time winner this season, and Russian third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, a four-time runner-up.
Playing her first event since a semi-final loss at Wimbledon, Henin lacked her usual precision but there was no shortage of determination as the feisty Belgian needed nearly two hours in difficult blustery conditions to tame her 58th-ranked opponent.
"It was tough I can tell you," Henin, told reporters. "For players it was terrible conditions, it's tough especially when you don't have a lot of matches.
"I was feeling better in the second set, I was a bit more relaxed and could deal a bit better with the conditions."
PLENTY OF GRIT
Coached by former French Open champion Michael Chang, Peng displayed plenty of grit of her own, making Henin work for every point, particularly in a seesaw opening set that did not head the Belgian's way until she broke to edge in front 6-5.
Back on centre court just 12 hours after a routine second round win over Slovenian qualifier Andreja Klepac, Henin finally began to hit her mark with more regularity in the second set, breaking Peng three times.
Henin, who has reached the final on her last two visits to Canada, winning the title in 2003, will take on Nadia Petrova for a place in the semi-finals.
The sixth-seeded Russian advanced with 6-4 6-1 win over 10th seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.
China will still be represented in the final eight by 169th-ranked Yan Zi, who continued her Cinderella run with a 6-3 5-7 7-6 win over Greece's Eleni Daniilidou.
Blocking Yan's path to the semi-finals is seventh seed and Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli of France, who overcame a sore back and Russian ninth seed Dinara Safina 6-2 6-7 6-0.
With defending champion Ana Ivanovic already out, it will be left to Jankovic to carry the Serbian flag as she chases her fifth title of the season.
Jankovic eased past Austria's Sybille Bammer, the only mother currently competing on the WTA Tour, 6-2 6-3 setting up a meeting with Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, a 6-4 6-3 winner over Israeli 11th seed Shahar Peer.
Twelfth seed Tatiana Golovin made it three Frenchwomen into the final eight by speeding past Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-0 in 61 minutes, and will take on Kuznetsova, a 6-3 6-2 winner over American Meghann Shaughnessy.