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Tenaciously Tennis


Uphill Battle for Belgians Clijsters and Henin on Grass

Posted in Amelie Mauresmo,Justine Henin,Kim Clijsters by Ben on June 18, 2010

The grass season hasn’t been very kind to Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin of Belgium. Both players face a real test at Wimbledon next week, especially with their past results on the surface. Clijsters, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in the Eastbourne quarterfinals faces a physical test. She did not play in the French Open due to injury. Henin, however, must pull through a mental barrier. Her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, warned the tennis world a couple days ago that the former world number one isn’t ready to win the tournament yet. We’ll see how their stories play out in the biggest stage of tennis shortly.

But even as results and words suggest otherwise, it’s never wise to write off this duo. The talent and strong spirits in both exudes winning potential at Wimbledon. It won’t be easy for either, even to make it to the second week. Clijsters’ last showing was four years ago. While she made it to the semifinals then, it’s currently a different tour. That same year, Henin made it to the finals of the event, but proved unable to win. In the semifinals the two Belgians faced off with Henin prevailing 6-4, 7-6. In the final — Amelie Mauresmo’s breakthrough year — the Frenchwoman beat the Belgian in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Of the two, I see Henin with the greater shot at pushing through past history at the event and winning. Her new game suites the speedy surface, and her grass season has already proven strong. Furthermore, I doubt the words of her coach mean much to Henin. In fact, they could be reverse psychology on his part — an attempt to psych out Henin’s opponents and the media, while actually inspiring her to try her hardest. Clijsters, meanwhile, remains physically incapable at this stage. She will, however, be just fine at the US Open.

If any two players can surprise, it’s these two.

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Serena Takes Home Twelfth Title, Sends Henin Home in Three Superb Sets

Serena Williams has finally done it: breaking the curse that allowed her to only win the Australian Open singles championship every other year. Williams successfully defended her title against Belgium’s surprise finalist, Justine Henin, in the first three-set final since Henin’s Wimbledon final against Amelie Mauresmo at the 2006 Wimbledon with a score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

The match, which had its ups and downs, including Henin’s run of fourteen consecutive points to take it to a third set, proved that while Serena is the best player in the world, the Belgian is close behind.

With the win, Serena now matches Billie Jean King’s record of twelve Slam titles, an amazing accomplishment. Serena has shown she has what it takes to keep winning in convincing fashion, and I have no doubt she will continue with a strong showing at the French Open in May. Yes, it’s her worst surface, but after her talk with ESPN commentator Mary Joe Fernandez, Serena mentioned a desire to win on the red clay of Paris. We all know that when Serena has the desire, there is little that stands in her way.

Regarding Justine, it was a long, difficult road to the final, and for her string of points from the middle of the second set to the beginning of the third set, it looked like the comeback champion would match compatriot Kim Clijster’s superb play at the US Open. However, it was not to be. By playing in her next tournament, though, Justine should have enough points to crack the top 50, which means her seeding will drastically improve by the time the French Open, her most successful Slam, rolls around.

It should also be noted that not only did the Williams sister win alone, but beat out the top doubles team with sister, Venus Williams, to take home their eleventh Grand Slam double title. Props to Serena for her physical stamina. It’s truly impressive that she has once again strung together twelve wins, playing every day, to reign supreme.

While it’s too soon to make any definitive predictions, and only time can truly tell, based on the form shown by these two chmapions, I see both making it to the semifinals of the French Open, and possibly even further, depending on the seeding. As of now, no players on the WTA tour hold the same confidence as Serena and Henin.


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