Rivalry Renewed: Serena Meets Henin in Australian Open Final
by Staff | January 28th, 2010, 4:42 am

World No. 1 Serena Williams and Justine Henin will meet in the Australian Open women’s final on Saturday. The final was determined earlier in the day after former champions Serena and Justine knocked out a pair of Chinese women, Li Na and Zheng Jie. ADHEREL

Serena, a four time Australian Open winner, struggled for much of her 7-6(4), 7-6(1) win over Li who was partaking in her maiden career Grand Slam semifinal.

Serena jumped out to an early break lead before Li fought her way back to force a tiebreak. In the second set, Li fought off match points serving 4-5 to get to another tiebreak which Serena dominated.

The second semifinal was anything but competitive. Playing in just her second event back, Henin ripped apart Zheng Jie 6-1, 6-0 in just 51 minutes.

“I knew it could be a dangerous match,” the 27-year-old Henin said. “Grand Slam semifinal is always very special because, you know, it’s the last before the big final. Especially in my situation, that I was very excited about, yeah, the possibility of being in another Grand Slam final. I knew I had to be really careful about that match. I’ve been very focused, very concentrate. I did my job perfectly well. That worked pretty good.”

Zheng was playing in her second Grand Slam semifinal. She and Li were trying to become the first Chinese players to reach a Grand Slam final. The win sent Henin into her third Australian Open final and her 12th of her career.

Henin and Serena have meet 13 times before with Henin winning seven. The two have meet six times in Grand Slam play and it’s Henin with a 4-2 advantage. They have never played in the Grand Slam final.

“We’ve never played in a Grand Slam final in the past,” said Henin. “It’s my first Grand Slam since I’m back, and we’re already there. So it’s more than a dream. I mean, I’m so happy to play against her because if I want to win another Grand Slam, I’ll have to beat the best player of the world. And that’s just the biggest challenge I could get. I have to be honest, I didn’t really expect that. But now that’s a reality that is coming. I will try to be at my best.”

Said Serena, “:I definitely think of her as a rival. I think we bring out the best game in each other. I think that we both just play our hearts out. I think that’s what creates a good rivalry.”

Henin is trying to follow in her countrywoman Kim Clijsters’ US Open triumph by winning in the first Slam back in comeback.

Serena has 11 career Grand Slam titles to Henin’s 7.

The women’s final will begin 3:30am ET Saturday morning.

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22 Comments for Rivalry Renewed: Serena Meets Henin in Australian Open Final

Kimo Says:

After a year and a half of boring women’s tennis, we finally have the kind of match that can get people interested: two champions with huge egos who deep down dislike each other. It can’t get any better.

jane Says:

True Kimo: I hope it’s not a rout and that both women bring their competitive spirits. I also am cheering on Henin in this case, for a repeat of Kim’s fairy tale comeback and for the shift that it may (?) in turn inspire in the rest of the WTA players (and their coaches) – ah, maybe there are different ways to win than hitting hard from the baseline! : )

D Says:

I usually don’t go for Serena, but against a cheater like Henin, I really hope Serena kicks her butt! (Although Henin will likely prevail given the way Serena’s been playing)

All those incidents, esp. the one where Henin raised her hand during Serena’s serve and then denied it just turned me off her completely. She also looks at her coach after every point (for advice?) like she can’t play without him.

Pity, for she has such a beautiful game and that amazing backhand to boot.

andrea Says:

a 54 minute match? watch out serena…

MMT Says:

D: I agree with your comments about Henin’s illegal coaching – it’s so egregious that the WTA really should do something about it. I think the problem is that the umpire must observe it and address it, and this is just a distraction. The tournament supervisor should empower idle linespeople to be the ears/eyes of the umpire to determine if illegal coaching is going on. There’s always an extra crew on hand to observe.

As for the incident with Serena Williams, I have to say I disagree – Serena saw the hand and served anyway. That was her decision and while the umpire goofed in not seeing it, and Henin should have admitted she put her hand up, Serena should also have interruped her serve if she saw the hand up, and she didn’t.

In that particular case, I think there’s enough blame to go around for all 3.

MMT Says:

By the way, I’m sure this match will be either 2 7 game set wins or 3 sets, and given that nobody is stronger mentally than Serena (not even Henin) I have to give the edge to her. I might have given consideration for her obvious physical ailments, but she showed against both Azarenka and Li Na that she has plenty of reserves of “steel” to overcome them.

Prediction: Serena in 2 tight sets.

fed is afraid Says:

what will serena do if the second
recently unretired player beats her??
the linespeople better watch out.

tenisbebe Says:

That was 2 very tired players in the first semi – Jez – so different from their other matches during AO. Not pretty but Serena got it done and I guess her doubles final is today. Hope she has enough in the tank to make this a final worth the hype but seeing how she looked yesterday, I don’t see it. I’m picking Henin in 3.

Kimmi Says:

Justine will go attack attack attack! Serena better get the 1st serve in or else. The problem for henin, she is not serving good so i believe serena will get a look at henin serve a lot.

Allez Henin..

Kerri Says:

Henin is a survivor and we should all welcome her back. So she looks up at her coach; so what?, alot of the players do. I like Serena; she is a great player but I think this Aussie Trophy is going to Justine – Anyways, it will be a good match – maybe, maybe 3 sets….Go Henin

tenisbebe Says:

MMT – do you really think Henin is getting coached frequently when she looks up to her box? I know she looks up there alot but so does Novak & Murray, to name a few and people don’t necessarily accuse them of being coached. It will be interesting to see if Justine uses the on-court coaching allowed during the regular WTA tournaments this year. Maybe then we’ll have a better idea if she needs Carlos advise during tight matches or if it’s merely encouragement on his part.

Thangs Says:

Henin,a true williams stopper..Henin in two tight sets…Allez Juju!

Kimmi Says:

I am excited about this final. I think they will both come with the intention of killing each other..especially serena! he he can’t wait.

nancy Says:

ohh god,this is goooooooood match,much better than all the mathes seen in two yrs without henin,serena was missing henin,n now she is there to kill her,but i think henin will prevail,she is on a roll

n abt the on court coaching,she is just telling to him yeah i should done shot like this not that,missed a shot…thats all,everybody does that..

a real treat for tennis lovers..

allez henin

js Says:

I think it will be a really great match. I am a big huge Serena fan. Also, I am pretty sure that the stat was wrong. While Serena and Justine have played 13 times, Serena has won 7 not Justine.

frank Says:

I wonder what alibi will Serena concoct if and when she will lose on Saturday.

In the US Open 2007, both Williamses had there own excuses.

Gloria Says:

All of you Serena Haters are so biased. Did anyone see Del Potro break his racket and give it to someone in the stands. Part of Serena’s large fine was abuse to the rackets. You think she is wrong about gender bias? Del Petro wasn’t even warned. Azerlinka was warned for using the F word. I heard the great Federer use it during the Us Open. No gender bias. He was not warned either.

Kathleen U.S.A. Says:

Did anyone notice Serena’s match agains Li, she was limping around, went into the locker-room “for treatment” gone 7 min. ca
me out like the steroid queen and fired 120 mph serves. wasn’t pretty but she won.
She is a thug made terroristic threats to a line coach, should have been banned for a year. Go Justine!!!

Mishi Waker Says:

Such a shame Justine Henin lost the AO this time. =(
A lot of the last few years have been boring and dominated by brute power. It seems power wins matches, no real technical skill required. Hopefully Henin should continue to improve throughout the year and beat the simple minded “turn off brain and hit really hard by default” players.

Allez Juju

Nate Diaz Says:

That right Mishi, Serena Williams won her 12th grand slam with nothing but “brute power”….

Technique had nothing to do with it…. LMAO

What an idiot, Serena is the greatest player of her generation and she proves it time and time again…

We know she beat your fav, but lay off the sour grapes and give credit where credit is due.

Serena’s sheer determination, speed, power and serve are second to none on the womens tour.

Skorocel Says:

Nate Diaz: If I reckon it correctly, during Wimby 2008 (which, as you may know, was won by Nadal on the men’s side), Venus Williams’ average serve speed was quicker than that of the Spaniard… Can you explain this?

Jamal Says:

Frank-Serena didnt have to concoct any type of alibi because she is number 1 and her game prove it! Henin and sll the serena haters should have just stayed retired!

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