Henin dominates Serena, but watch out for Venus
by Abe Kuijl | July 5th, 2007, 10:19 am

Despite the close scoreline, there could be only one winner in the Justine Henin – Serena Williams blockbuster quarterfinal. Henin dominated Serena for the entire match, even though a couple of loose games from the Belgian in the second set gave her opponent a glimmer of hope.

Henin forced the early break in the final set however, and ran away to a 5-1 lead. Naturally, Serena wouldn’t give up until the last ball was hit, and it saw the Australian Open champion come back to 5-3, putting real pressure on Henin to serve for the match for a second time. The No.1 seed was looking shaky, but Serena couldn’t pounce once more, and after a brilliant drop shot from Henin and a couple of unforced errors from her opponent, she closed out the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

It was interesting to see how both players held up mentally. Halfway through the second set, it seemed Henin started to realise this was her golden opportunity to beat Serena on her least favorite court, and all of a sudden, her forehand started to break down, like it had done so frequently in the past. Still, over the past year or so, Henin really improved her weaker wing and we have hardly seen her falter on the shot any longer.

What struck me most though, was that Serena never really appeared to notice the fact that her opponent was starting to lack confidence on her forehand. Throughout the match, Williams hit the majority of her shots to Justine’s favored backhand, getting into backhand rallies, even though Serena was having problems on that wing herself. Has anyone ever seen so many slices come off her racket?

Serena said in her press conference she was having problems with her left thumb, when trying to hit a two-hander. She had fallen on her hand in the third set of her match against Hantuchova, and in the past two days the thumb had really swollen. Whatever it was, it was obvious Serena could not execute her backhand the way she would have wanted. And not being able to hit freely surely ain’t going to cut it against the hottest player on tour of the moment.

So, yes, I was wrong in my predictions, even though I still believe that had Serena been fully fit (read: no calf strain and thumb injury), she would have taken out Justine. Henin is now the absolute favorite for the title at SW19, although an unexpected surge from Venus Williams could mean trouble if the two meet in the final.

Venus dominated Maria Sharapova in their fourth round match on Centre Court, before Henin clinched her semifinal spot. The No.23 seed was playing several levels better than she had done so far in the tournament, and it’s been a while since she had shown such good form. Sharapova’s thoughts must have gone back to earlier this year, when that other Williams completely dominated her in Melbourne.

Venus might have taken her inspiration from two years ago, when she edged Sharapova in the semifinals here at Wimbledon en route to a surprise run to the title. Seeded 14th at the time, she become the lowest seed ever to win at SW19.

The 27-year-old owns a stunning 7-1 record over Henin, having lost their first meeting, but the pair haven’t met in the past four years.

Still, Venus has a long way to go to get to the final, whilst Marion Bartoli is the last hurdle for Henin to take. The Frenchwoman has played some good tennis getting to the semis, but there is no way she will upset the No.1.

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16 Comments for Henin dominates Serena, but watch out for Venus

aicha Says:

you no what she is beautiful i like her and she play good

Goetzkuno Says:

In case you missed it: Serena is much better than Henin, she said so herself. She was at “only 40%” of her normal strength in the very close match she lost. That implies that she is 1 1/2 times better, or 2 1/2 times as good as Henin. Again, folks, she said so herself. She is very consistent – always far better than the people she loses to – and she is candid: she tells it as she sees it. Grace? generosity? Ok, can’t have everything!

normiris Says:

If it comes out of the mouth of a Williams, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Serena wasn’t 100% in the match (look at how much one handed backhand slice she hit) but she was more than 40%. Once again, she chose to give her opponent no credit and claim that she was better. She did the same thing the last time she lost to Henin. Richard Williams said that they rubbed vinager and water on her calf and that seemed to work better than those fancy doctors with their fancy machines. He’s one step away from being a professional wrestling promoter and rarely, if ever, has anything of any real value to say.

Steven Says:

No matter how many times Justine beats Serena there will always be an excuse. Serena goes to one of two excuses unfailingly:
1. She was injured
2. She played only 20 to 40 percent of her best.

Maybe the guys should try that tactic against Federer. That way they would never have to acknowledge that he is simply better or out-played them.

You have to be very small person to refuse to acknowledge the accomplishments of your peers. Serena is a great player, too bad she diminishes herself in this way. Great champions, like Federer, give credit where credit is due.

nadalroks Says:

speaking of the mens game it looks like fed was a little rusty in his match today, nadal came back to beat youhzny from 2sets down 4-6 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2, talk about change of momentum he has berdych tomorow his toughest challenge after federer i wud say.

Dr. Death Says:

Serena can say what she wants. Nothing succeeds like winning the match.

Take a look at her father’s comments on rain delays, etc. This attitude runs in the family. I suspect it is a defense mechanism, but what the hell, play tennis! No one is going to beat Venus in this tournament.

Richard Says:

I’m glad the better sister is in the Semifinals.

If anything, Venus will improve to 8-1 against Henin, should they meet in the final.

Aussie Says:

Venus is kinda one dimentional…She and Kuznetsova were trading explosive shots straight to each other…with no thought of changing pace or using angles etc…
If Henin does not manage to control Venus’ pace and move her around, I’m afraid we will see another one-dimentional power-blaster win this great title..

Giner Says:

“speaking of the mens game it looks like fed was a little rusty in his match today”

You’d think so, with a 5 or 6 day break… Nadal himself was well and truly into the second week without even getting past his 3rd round.

Giner Says:

“So, yes, I was wrong in my predictions, even though I still believe that had Serena been fully fit (read: no calf strain and thumb injury), she would have taken out Justine.”

The problem is, this rarely ever happens. When was the last time she was fully fit? Not in years, that I know for sure. She’s been overweight for at least 2 years now. It’s one thing to say that about a loss, but it’s another to blame your opponent for your lack of fitness or form. What do you expect them to do? Play worse to level out the handicap?

Steven Says:

Richard, I agree with you that the better sister advanced. That said, Justine and Venus have played little, or not at all, in the last four years. Justine is not the same player that Venus handled so easily years ago. Most of that 8-1 record you mentioned was against a pre-Grand Slam Justine… a still-developing Justine. She is much more confident now, has a bigger serve, a fore-hand has become a real weapon, an awesome return game and more powerful ground-strokes. Her net play has improved as well. I guarantee you Venus knows this, and will not under-estimate Henin. I predict a real fight between two very talented players…. a fight Justine will win.

Steven Says:

Quick record check confirmed my suspicions…..their most RECENT
meeting was in January of 2003…..most of their matches were in 2001 and 2002. Justine was in mediocre physical condition, considered “mentally weak” and had no forehand to speak of.
Most of those matches went to three sets anyway.

zola Says:

I picked serena over Justine too. But I forgot that Justine perhaps takes tennis more seriously than Serena. I like Serena more than Justine, but I was disappointed by that leg cramp and the “bathroom break” incident. I thought Serena should have been more fit, knowing she was coming to Wimbledon. So, no sympathy fore her.

Venus outplayed and outshrieked MAria. I think MAria has seldom an opponent that can match her decibel. Others should follow. But really what is it with her and the Williams Sisters that she cannot overcome?

I have no pick for Venus-Justine. Tha 7-1 tells me to go for Venus. But Justine plays very well. So, probably you are right to pick Venus. Let’s see how it goes.

By the way, outfit-wise, The Williams sisters did it right this time. Very classy and nice outfits.

MarkKW Says:

So sorry to go against the “anti-Serena” grain, but, I saw the match with Henin and kept waiting for Serena to get “fired up” and she never did. She’s not 100%–probably, arguably, han’t been in a while, but, still, anyone who has ever seen Serena “on” would know that she doesn’t “tank” matches…ever. She wasn’t 100% when she won the Australian…no one would argue that. Serena at 100% could out play Henin’s 100% every day next week and twice on Sunday. She was at my estimation about 60% and still took Justine to three sets–who in the top ten could say that? No one, that’s who. As Serena said to the Michael Stich commentary, she’s done more than he ever has and has nothing to prove. Talk to Vaidisova, Peer, and Sharapova and ask them what it’s like to play an unfit Serena on her way to the Aussie ’07 open. She won it. ‘Nuff said.

The truth Says:

Serena says she’s the better player because she is.

the kiwi Says:

serena williams is just another tennis player i dont think so.serena williams on her come back fromthe start of the year first winning the 1st grand slam of the year australian open beating maria sharapova 6-1 6-2 then making the quarter-finals at the french open and again makeing the quarter-finals at the wimbledon championships both in those quarter-finals were both justine henin she beat her though at the final of the masdaq one hundred tournament i was so happy for her and the sisters togethervenus has done so well on her comeback this year starting out to win the wimbledon chapionships serena williams just deserves to make it so much more farer but this year the great thing is they have both won grand slams this year venus for the wimbledon champs and serena on the rebound ace with the australian open.

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