Women’s Final

Jan 31, 2010

Women’s Final

Heavy strapping or no heavy strapping, Serena Williams demonstrated just why she is at the top of the rankings by beating Justine Henin in the final yesterday 6-4 3-6 6-2.

Henin was planning to take her first open title since her return from an 18 month long retirement, in a very similar vein to Kim Clijsters’ achievements at the US Open in 2009. She fell foul to the strength of Williams, after making a promising start. It soon became obvious that it was not only Serena’s strength which was going to get her the points, but her serve. The big serves came exactly when she needed them, getting her out of a couple of sticky break point situations. Henin struggled to capitalise on her opportunities and fell behind. Even when she was level at 4-4 in the first set, she could not get a firmer grip on the direction of the set, and Serena took it with some more frighteningly powerful serves.

In the second set, it appeared that Henin was back. This was the tennis that had got her – as a seedless, rank-less, returning player – to the finals. Henin played some superb back-to-back games, clawing her way back onto the scoreboard. On the other side of the court, Serena’s play became a bit heavy. Still, no-one doubted there was a battle on Henin’s hand to keep Williams under control. Henin played a beautiful hold game, and broke Serena to take the second set.

Everybody took a moment for a breather, players and audience alike. The deciding set looked to be going Henin’s way at first, with Henin taking the first game and then getting two break points in the second. And yet, like a true champion, Serena came blasting back into form out of nowhere with a few aces and gusty play.

Everything was square at 2-2 when Serena starts to break away from Henin. Ace after ace and blistering shots ensured her another break, drawing more and more frustration from Henin. Soon, the 2004 Australian Champion was starting to look tired, her legs seeming to drag her around the court instead of making her fly as she had been doing previously in the game.

Serena had no problems holding with her serve, and what with the damage of the break already done, it seemed inevitable that Henin would lose unless she found some energy, somewhere. Unfortunately – whether it was fatigue, frustration, or something lacking from those 18 months off – Henin never found that next gear. She went down in the final set 6-2, only managing to stave off one Championship point of Serena’s, before Williams blasted a backhand winner.

Both players were complimentary and congratulatory of each other in their final speeches, and no wonder. Justine Henin’s run has been breathtaking, and who knows the way the match would have gone had Henin been back in tennis for longer. Who knows what the game may be like if this time next year the two same players meet again, or if it was Henin vs. any other player. There’s no wonder that Henin still has some kinks in her game to work out, but she made it to a Grand slam final in only her second tournament back, kinks and all. That is definitely something to be admired. Serena, on the other hand, levelled with Billie-Jean King’s record of 12 Grand Slam titles, an achievement she was ‘honoured’ to obtain. Billie-Jean King herself was there in the crowd, and Serena has always mentioned her as one of her tennis mentors and idols.

So once again, we have had a thrilling women’s final. Yes, I do sound surprised. It has felt like over the last year or so there has been a rather dull element to the women’s game, but thankfully this appears to have blown over. With Clijsters and Henin back, and back on form, the game has been blown wide open for anyone to come in and grab what they can. Ok, so maybe this final wasn’t quite as ‘fairytale’ as the one that the US Open turned out to be. But just to look at the match up of the last two rounds shows how much the game has come on since its rather more staid days last year.

Here’s to the hope the game will continue like this for the rest of the year and beyond. And that Henin can capitalise on her amazing form and get into another Grand Slam final. Anyone else wishing for a Henin/Clijsters final at some point in the year?

- SophieG

 

 

Written by: SophieG

(1) Comment

joshum says:
Feb 1, 2010

i so want henin to win a few slams this year. yes, a real comeback.

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