Justine Henin kept saying it, even if no one was listening.
She's not back to being the player she was before taking a 20-month hiatus from tennis. She's still searching for consistency on court. Too many "ups and downs," to use her term.
Turns out Henin was right. Betrayed down the stretch by her best stroke, the backhand, and by her usually steely nerves, the four-time French Open champion lost to No. 7-seeded Sam Stosur of Australia 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round Monday, ending Henin's 24-match winning streak at her favorite tournament.
"Everyone wants to see me (at) the level that I was," said Henin, who abruptly retired in May 2008 while ranked No. 1, then returned to the tour this season and reached the Australian Open final in January. "I still have to work a lot, quite simply."
Serena Williams stumbled at the start before cruising to a 6-2, 6-2 victory against No. 18 Shahar Peer of Israel. Williams dropped the first seven points of the match, then immediately took nine a row and was on her way.
The other quarterfinal in that half of the draw will be No. 4 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia against 36th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan. Jankovic beat No. 23 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-2, while Shvedova eliminated 107th-ranked Jarmila Groth of Australia 6-4, 6-3.
In men's fourth-round matches, four-time champion Rafael Nadal improved to 200-16 on clay over his career by overcoming four breaks of serve to defeat No. 24 Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.
Nadal will meet No. 19 Nicolas Almagro, who knocked off No. 7 Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. Also Monday, No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia eliminated the last U.S. man in the tournament, 98th-ranked Robby Ginepri of Kennesaw, Ga., 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, and No. 22 Jurgen Melzer of Austria beat 114th-ranked qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Williams might have forgotten what it feels like to reach the semifinals in Paris: She hasn't been that far at the French Open since 2003, a year after she won her only championship at the tournament.
"I feel prepared every year, and I always dive out in the quarters," Williams said. "I'm just trying to get past that this year, hopefully."
She owns a 3-1 record against Stosur, including a victory at January's Australian Open.