Henin Wins In Holland, Wimbledon Next?
Published June 19, 2010 12:00
'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands - While in retirement, she watched as Roger Federer completed a career Grand Slam by winning in Paris. She returned saying she wanted to do the same by winning Wimbledon. And Justine Henin made a strong statement with just a few days to go until the big W, winning the UNICEF Open on the lawns of 's-Hertogenbosch.
Henin, the No.1 seed, didn't drop a set en route to the final but was in trouble as soon as she took the court against No.7 seed Andrea Petkovic, losing her first service game at 15 and never breaking back, losing the first set, 6-3. Petkovic broke Henin's first service games in the second and third sets as well but the battling Belgian wasn't going to let the same fate repeat, most impressively rallying from 0-3 in the decider to win the International-level title, 36 63 64.
"When I was down a break in the second, I don't think many people would have thought I could come back. It's the kind of match you really like to win," Henin said. "Today was harder than my other matches, because I really wanted to win, my mind was already in Wimbledon, and Andrea played a great match. She has a good game for grass - she hits the ball really flat and hard."
Henin now has four career grass court titles, second among active players to Venus Williams (who has five). The Belgian's three prior grass court titles came here in 2001 and at Eastbourne in 2006 and 2007. With her 43rd overall Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title, she ties Williams for most among active players.
Henin has one Australian Open (2004), four French Opens (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007) and two US Opens (2003, 2007), but no titles at Wimbledon. Her best results at the All-England Club were finals in 2001 (losing to Williams) and 2006 (losing to Amélie Mauresmo). Henin is now 50-10 lifetime on grass.
"I was nervous before this tournament because grass was not my favorite surface, but now I'm looking forward to my first match at Wimbledon," said Petkovic, who was playing just her fourth career tournament on grass. "It was a good experience today. I learned I can compete with the best players. And I had my chances today - it was tough with the wind, because from one side we were always breaking and from one side we were always holding - so when I was up 3-0 in the third set I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Justine was too good."
In the doubles final, which was played Saturday afternoon, Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova won their first Tour title together with a 36 63 106 match tie-break win over Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.
"A few weeks ago in the Strasbourg final Vania beat us, so it was nice to get this win against them," Rodionova said. "We worked very hard this week, with all of our matches going to a super tie-break. This gives us great confidence."
Kudryavtseva took home her second career doubles title on the Tour (her first coincidentally came with King) while Rodionova got her third (her first two came with Elena Vesnina and Andreea Ehritt-Vanc).