Smooth Transition For Justine
Published June 14, 2010 12:00
'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands - The only major missing in her cabinet may be Wimbledon, but Justine Henin still has one of the greatest grass court resumes out there. And she showed her prowess on the surface Monday in 's-Hertogenbosch, winning her UNICEF Open opener handily in straight sets.
Henin, the No.1 seed at the $220,000 tournament, rebounded from a fourth round French Open loss with a routine 64 62 first round win over Angelique Kerber here, losing her serve once but breaking her opponent four times during the one-hour, 20-minute victory. It was their second career meeting - in their first, Henin won by the exact same score at Miami two years ago.
"It was difficult at the beginning to feel comfortable as I hadn't played on grass for a long time and she was putting a lot of pressure on me," Henin said. "It was hard to find a good rhythm, be aggressive and come to the net, but I just kept fighting and from the middle of the first set I started feeling much better."
Henin is now 46-10 lifetime on grass, going 11-3 here (winning the title once in 2001), 8-0 in Eastbourne (winning in 2006 and 2007) and 27-7 at Wimbledon (her best results being finals in 2001 and 2006). And in eight of her 10 losses, she won a set - her only straight set losses on grass came in the Wimbledon semifinals in 2002 and 2003 (to Venus Williams and Serena Williams, respectively, and by the exact same scoreline as well - 63 62).
It was a mixed bag for the other seeds in action, with No.3 seed Maria Kirilenko and No.5 seed Alexandra Dulgheru both moving through, but No.6 seed Sara Errani falling to Sybille Bammer, 61 63, and No.8 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues falling to Dutch No.2 Arantxa Rus, 46 62 63.
Dutch No.1 Michaella Krajicek had to miss her home tournament this week on account of playing the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon. Krajicek won this title in 2006; she is ranked three spots higher than Rus, No.121 to No.124.
Notable winners among the all-unseeded match-ups were Ana Ivanovic, who stormed back after losing the first set to beat Sofia Arvidsson, 46 60 61; and Anastasia Rodionova, who sent two-time defending UNICEF Open champ Tamarine Tanasugarn packing with a 16 76(5) 63 comeback victory.
"I started a little bit nervous, but in the second and third sets I got into a groove and was striking the ball really well," Ivanovic said. "Last week I went to Sweden because my coach is from there and I spent some time with Sofia and practiced with her. So when we saw we were playing each other in the first round here, we thought it was strange! But we're good friends. I've known her a long time."