Serena, Henin Set to Clash Tonight at US Open

Posted on September 4, 2007

The super-strong top half features the three winners of the Grand Slam singles titles in 2007 – Serena Williams (Australian Open), Justine Henin (Roland Garros), Venus Williams (Wimbledon) – and the woman with the most Tour singles match wins this year (66) – Jelena Jankovic; between them, these four women have earned $7,458,747, won 180 singles matches and collected 14 singles titles in 2007.

Chapter 12 of the enthralling rivalry between Justine Henin and Serena Williams takes place in the US Open quarterfinals, their third straight Grand Slam quarterfinal clash of 2007 and their fourth meeting overall this year; both women to have won majors in 2007 – Williams and the Australian Open and Henin at Roland Garros; Henin and Williams have won a combined 14 Grand Slam singles titles and reached 20 finals overall.

Their sisterly bond is unquestioned, but Serena and Venus Williams's career prize money figures are amazingly close at the moment, too; between them the sisters have won more than $35 million in official earnings, with Serena ($17,805,626) just $4,509 ahead of older sister Venus ($17,801,117); whomever performs better in Week 2 of the US Open will occupy the No.5 spot on the all-time money list, a position currently held by Serena; world No.1 Justine Henin ($16,289,729) will move from No.8 to No.7 on that list if she wins the title on Saturday.

Two other eerily similar stats are the career singles match win-loss records of Justine Henin (461-103) and Venus Williams (461-107), both of whom are six-time Grand Slam singles champions.

By surrendering her US Open title in the third round, Maria Sharapova will also give up the No.2 ranking when the new list is published next Monday (September 10); with Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova reaching the quarterfinals Sharapova is assured of a two-spot drop to No.4, but could also be overtaken by Anna Chakvetadze (should she win the title); Justine Henin is safe at No.1 regardless of her, or anyone else's, results in New York.

In other rank projection news, Venus Williams will return to the Top 10 for the first time since April 2006 if she reaches the semifinals; by reaching the quarterfinals she will rise from No.14 to No.11, but could be overtaken by Shahar Peer if the Israeli progresses deep into the second week; Serena Williams could rise from No.9 to as high as No.5 with a title run, her first time in the Top 5 since July 2005; Marion Bartoli will overtake Amιlie Mauresmo to become the top-ranked French woman, the first change in that country's No.1 ranking since April 2001.

Agnes Szavay is the first Hungarian woman to reach the US Open singles quarterfinals, and only the third woman from her country to reach the last eight at any Grand Slam, following Eva Szabo (1975 Roland Garros) and Petra Mandula (2001 Roland Garros); should she reach the semifinals she will be Hungary's first-ever Grand Slam women's singles semifinalist.

Agnes Szavay is also the first debutante to reach the US Open women's singles quarterfinals since Venus Williams went all the way to the final in 1997; the 18-year-old is projected to rise from No.31 to a career-high No.23 by reaching the quarterfinals; she will break into the Top 20 if she reaches the final.

Shahar Peer is the first Israeli woman to contest the US Open singles quarterfinals; at the Australian Open in January she became the first woman from her country to reach the last eight at any major; should Peer reach the semifinals she will rise from No.19 to No.13 and become Israel's highest-ever ranked woman in singles, a title she currently holds (at No.15) with the recently-retired Anna Smashnova.

While between them the players in the top half of the draw – Henin, Jankovic, S.Williams, V.Williams – have made 67 Grand Slam singles quarterfinal appearances (incl. 2007 US Open), those in the bottom half – Chakvetadze, Kuznetsova, Peer, Szavay – have made a combined total of 14. (WTA)