Justine's Winning Return
Published January 17, 2011 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - Although some of them had to dig deep, the biggest names all made it through their first round matches at the Australian Open on Monday. One who had to dig particularly deep was Justine Henin, who was outplayed for most of a set and a half before wearing down Sania Mirza.
Henin, playing her first WTA match since Wimbledon last year and the No.11 seed here, missed out on set point in the first set and found herself down a set and pushed in the second by Mirza's big forehands and solid backhands; but she managed to wrestle control of the match and cruised to victory, 57 63 61.
"I knew it would be a tough match. She's not like other qualifiers. She has been in the Top 30 and can play very solid tennis," Henin said. "It wasn't the perfect situation for me to come into this tournament. There are many things we can talk about that were not good in my game, but my attitude was positive. I kept fighting even when I was feeling a bit down. Every point started to count a lot."
Henin missed all post-Wimbledon events last year due to an elbow injury. She commented on her fitness during post-match press: "Even if I know the problem is still there and is probably going to be there a little longer, I try to stay focused on my game and how I feel physically generally," she said. "I just try to forget about it. I know I'll have to do all the treatments but mentally it's important I put my mind somewhere else, on something very important - my game."
Henin was one of three former No.1 players taking the court on Day 1. Earlier in the day, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova both won - read more about Williams' win and Sharapova's win. Current No.1 Caroline Wozniacki also moved through to the second round (read more about that match here).
No.6 seed Francesca Schiavone, No.8 seed Victoria Azarenka, No.9 seed Li Na and No.15 seed Marion Bartoli all moved ahead as well. Among the lower tier of seeds, No.17 seed Aravane Rezai and No.28 seed Daniela Hantuchova became the first seeded casualties, Rezai losing to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Hantuchova falling to Regina Kulikova.
In one of the more notable matches between unseeded players, Jelena Dokic - a former Top 5 player working her way back up the rankings, and a wildcard here - scored a 63 62 win over Zuzana Ondraskova. "I think I can still do a lot," said Dokic, who has been ranked as high as No.4 in her career. "I feel like I saved myself quite a few years. My motivation is back. I'm working really, really hard right now. I think I can play for five, six years minimum, that's the plan."