Justine Henin Interview - September 4

Posted on September 5, 2007

U.S. OPEN

September 4, 2007

Justine Henin

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. This match seemed a little different than the final at Key Biscayne or the match at Wimbledon because you came out very aggressively and you really never stopped being aggressive.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, it's been very different in the fact that I was -- I mean, in Key Biscayne I was, you know, playing so well in the first set. Today I was leading, but I wasn't dominating the points and the rallies. So I was a bit concerned during the first set because I wasn't aggressive enough.
Then from the tiebreak until the end, I played unbelievable tennis. I've been aggressive like the No. 1 player in the world, you know, just trying to dictate the points. And it was very good.
I'm very happy to beat her here in this stadium, in a great atmosphere. So that means a lot to me.

Q. Did you push yourself hard to stay aggressive on every single point tonight?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, because I know how important is every point against Serena. And in the first set, you know, I was leading, and then I got so nervous to finish the match, 6-4. Then this tiebreak. I played every point a hundred percent. Then after that I was just cruising to the end of the match.
That game at 3-1 in the second set was so important, just to keep my serve at the time. And I'm very happy because, yeah, I was just in the court. I was playing so aggressive in every shot. That's the way I hope I can play all the time, but it's not so easy.

Q. When was the last time you were this nervous playing a match of this magnitude?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, you can get nervous. Even maybe today you feel it a little bit more because it's against Serena and she's pushing myself a lot.
So, no, you know, I can get nervous. All the players can get nervous. I mean, even the best champions. It's okay if you get nervous, but you just have to find the solutions and look after the solutions. And that's what I did. My attitude changed completely.

Q. Even though you hadn't beaten her on a hard court before, did you feel confident having beaten Serena on two other surfaces before?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, I woke up this morning, I was very excited. I was feeling it was going to be a big day for me. And I was just -- I was in confidence actually 'cause in Miami I was so close, I should have won that match. But she's been stronger mentally. Maybe I didn't believe enough in myself before the match at the time and I didn't want to do that mistake again.
Then especially my win on clay, I knew I could beat her, but on grass it was much harder. And I feel better on hard court than on grass, that's for sure. I have more confidence here than on grass. We could feel it tonight. Every match against Serena is very special. A lot of pressure, a lot of tension.
But it was good. I really enjoyed it.

Q. Is this win in some ways more satisfying than the other two? Clay is sort of your surface. At Wimbledon, Serena was really injured.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, there's nothing to say about my win today. I was playing good. She's at home. She expected a lot of things here. She had a hot of motivation, like I had. So that gives a lot of satisfaction.
But my tournament is not over - far from that. I have two days off, so I will have to deal with that, too. We'll see.

Q. In the few words she spoke in her press conference, she was very upset, she did manage to get out the fact that she was 100% physically, no excuses there. Did she seem herself out there mentally and physically?
JUSTINE HENIN: No, I just try to stay focussed on myself. I don't look too much to my opponent, you know, 'cause, you know, it's like I have to play my tennis, my game, be really concentrated on what I have to do.
I don't care if she was hundred percent or not. I think she was physically fine. She was moving pretty well.
But in the second set I just took control of the rallies. I was playing aggressive, very long. She probably didn't find really the solutions at that time.

Q. Even though you're the smallest player in the top 10, you've been No. 1 for 80 weeks. When will you finally be convinced that everybody else needs to fear you and you don't have to fear everybody else?
JUSTINE HENIN: I'm sure a lot of players don't like to play against me. But I have a lot of respect for everyone. I start to trust myself much more than in the past because it hasn't been luck for me. It's just I proved so many things. And I don't have anything to prove except enjoy my tennis on the court and try to stay healthy and enjoy every moment of it.
I'm really proud of what I did this year. It's not over yet. But it's been great 'cause I came back from a very tough situation personally. It was tough to come back professionally and just do my best, and that's what I did. So I enjoy being out there. I'm in confidence. So doesn't mean I will go to the end now. But I really had a lot of fun, and that's really important.

Q. How much has the reconciliation with your family given you that confidence?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I don't know if there's a difference in my tennis and my career. I would say that it makes me feel a better person and that's the most important thing because it's going to be my whole life.
With my family back, I can tell you it's a lot, one father, two brothers, one sister at one time. But it's just a great feeling. They were just all awake this night because it was very late in Belgium. They could follow the match. I got their messages.
It's just, yeah, an amazing feeling. There's a lot of love. That gives a lot of confidence for the rest of my life, not only for my career.

Q. Were these all messages on your cell phone? Who did you hear from?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, yeah. My father and one of my brothers left me messages. That's a nice feeling.

Q. It seems like you have the perfect strategy to play her, you and Carlos have developed. You don't stay away from the forehand, you serve down the middle a hot, keep away from the down-the-line returns. That's gotta be something that makes you feel pretty comfortable?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yes, tactically, except I always have to play my game which is very aggressive. If I'm too far from my baseline, if I don't move forward, I have no chance to win this kind of match.
But it's true that tactically it was very clear in my head what I had to do. It's very important to keep it, do it from the first point to the end. She loves to have the control of the rallies. She loves to be in the court. She doesn't like to be under pressure, especially on the forehand side. My serve was very good.
The key was to be really aggressive on the return because she served great in her first few matches, but I think today she was feeling I was there on the return, and that was really important, too.

Q. How do you avoid a letdown, particularly when you might play Venus? No one has beaten both sisters in the same Slam in a long time.
JUSTINE HENIN: I think if I have to play Venus, it will be a good challenge for me to play both sisters in the same tournament. But in Wimbledon I would say that match against Serena took me a lot of energy. I was just looking too much after beating her on another surface than clay. And emotionally, I went far in my limits at that time.
It's been really disappointed the way I left the tournament. But I learned a lot of things. And here it's different. Every match is a final for me now. There is a lot of expectations for sure. But I just go match after match, step by step. It's great to be again in the semis. It's great to be again with the other top players, and now the best will go to the end, so we'll see.

Q. What did you think when they moved this Venus match back a day? Did you think that would give tonight's winner an advantage? How do you handicap the Venus/Jankovic match?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, it's been a strange schedule. Only one quarterfinal today. But, you know, you have to take the situation like it comes, and I don't see it as a problem or as an advantage. I will have two days off. I will have to deal with that. It's going to be good for my recovery. I'm not going to pay that much attention to tomorrow's match. I just want to enjoy what I did today and get ready for the next one.

Q. Do you find Venus a much different opponent than Serena?
JUSTINE HENIN: She is, for sure, yeah. Different styles. But I didn't watch Venus that much in the last few months, so it will be another good test for me for sure. And I will have to, you know, just be myself, play my tennis, play my game.
So, yeah, I didn't play Venus for a long time so that will be interesting.

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