Saturday, January 30, 2010

Superb Serena Squeaks Past Henin for 5th Aussie Open

A Serena/Justine major final was long overdue, but tennis got it's wish Saturday night in Melbourne. The 2 future hall-of-famers did battle on the sports' biggest stage, and the results exceeded expectations.
The two matched each other shot for shot, but more importantly, the ladies' determination was on display at it's finest. These two wanted this title more than anything else, and it was a shame there had to be a loser. The momentum swung like their racquets, and this match was about the tennis, more than anything. There was no chat about the dresses, or their multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, or anything else that the rest of the WTA is unfortunately plagued with. There was nothing negative about it. It was greatness.

And eventually Serena prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a match that featured beautiful shotmaking, gritty fist pumps and drama. Henin though, deserves all the credit in the world. It wasn't until she ran into Serena that her spectacular comeback run ended, and she probably would have been crowned the champ if anyone else was across the net from her.
In the opening set, there was little separating Henin and Williams. Serena got an early break thanks to 1 bad game from her opponent, but the Belgian leveled the match at 4-4 when she broke back. Serena played two impressive games to take the set, and then the tables turned.

Henin played an aggressive brand of tennis and got to every ball to capture the 2nd set 6-3, winning the last 4 games and the last 10 points. In the 3rd, Henin's domination continued, but it didn't take long for ReRe to regain control. Williams broke twice to get a chance to serve for the match, where she eventually closed it out in 2 hours and 6 minutes to capture her 5th Australian Open title (1st in an even-numbered year) and 12th major, tying Billie-Jean King.

"I feel amazing. I feel like it happened but it hasn't happened, so it's really kind of cool. I really am in the moment right now," Williams told the media.

Just 5 points separated the two in the end, as Serena had a monster serving day with 12 aces, while Henin's 1st serve percentage disappointed.

“I feel really special that I was able to tie Billie Jean King. Because in my heart of hearts, I've been going for it and I haven't been able to quite achieve it ... It was good to tie her, but what I'm more enthused about is what she did off the court,” said Williams after her win.

The two were very complementary of each other following there battle.

“She clearly hasn't like lost a step at all since she's been gone,” said Serena. “I think her game is definitely better. I mean, it was excellent before she left. But, you know, I think she's added a lot to it. She can go really far. As you saw today, she took me to the umpteenth level. So I feel like I played a girl who's been on the tour for the past five years without a break.”

And Henin obviously should be extremely proud of herself, despite the obvious disappointment.

"It's been a very emotional two weeks for me,'' said the 27 year old. "I thought it would never happen to me again. I'd like to congratulate Serena. She's a real champion.''

"It's just more than what I could expect, I just have to remember that,'' Justine told the press. "Even if it's quite soon after the match now, I'm sure there will be a lot of positive things I can think about in a few days. It's been almost perfect. Just the last step, I couldn't make it.''

Roland Garros. Don;t be stupid and seed Justine in the top 4.

Take note, WTA. This is how it should be done.

Congrats ladies!

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