Justine Henin, Svetlana Kuznetsova Set for US Open Title Match

Posted on September 7, 2007

World No.1 Justine Henin could follow up her monumental US Open effort of beating the Williams sisters back-to-back by becoming the first person to do it en route to a Grand Slam title; the only player to have beaten them both at one of the majors was Martina Hingis, who beat Serena in the quarterfinals and then Venus in the semifinals before a straight set loss to Jennifer Capriati in the championship final of the 2001 Australian Open.

Henin now has a chance to separate herself as the individual No.2 on the list of active Grand Slam singles titlists; she and Venus Williams each have six majors, but a win on Saturday night would increase Heninís tally to seven with a US Open title; No.1 on the list of active Grand Slam singles titlists is Serena Williams, who holds eight Grand Slam singles titles.

By beating Venus Williams in the US Open semifinals yesterday, Henin also gives herself a shot at overtaking the American on the overall Tour singles titles winners list; the two are tied at No.11 on the list with 35 Tour singles titles each and a win on Saturday night would allow Henin to separate herself as an individual No.11 on the list (with Williams dropping to No.12); just one active player, Hingis, owns more titles (42), although 51-time titlist Lindsay Davenport returns to action next week.

Henin is the first No.1 seed to reach the US Open final since 2003, when Kim Clijsters was a runner-up (to Henin); the last No.1 seed to win the US Open singles title was Serena Williams, who achieved the feat in 2002.

Only on two occasions since 1996 has any woman won the Roland Garros-US Open double: Serena Williams achieved the feat in 2002, and one of this yearís finalists, Henin, achieved it a year later in 2003.

Although she is 2-14 against Henin, Svetlana Kuznetsova did win their most recent encounter, at Berlin in May; also, the Russian is the only player to beat Henin twice while the Belgian was ranked No.1 in the world.

Both Henin and Kuznetsova are among the Top 4 Tour singles match win leaders this year; Jelena Jankovic is at No.1 with 66 wins, Anna Chakvetadze follows with 54 wins, Henin is next with 49 and Kuznetsova now has 48.

Both Henin and Kuznetsova enjoyed title-winning success during the US Open Series, with Henin capturing the Tier I in Toronto (her sixth title of the year) and Kuznetsova winning the Tier II in New Haven (her first of the year).

Henin and Kuznetsova were two of six returning champions in this yearís draw; Hingis and Maria Sharapova both lost in the third round, while Henin took out Serena and Venus in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

The US Open is the 16th straight Grand Slam that nobody will win back-to-back titles (the last person to achieve two major title runs in a row was in fact Henin, who won the 2003 US Open and the 2004 Australian Open); the longest run of Grand Slams without a back-to-back winner is 18 (between 1976 US Open and 1980 Australian Open [Dec.]). (WTA)