Victorious Henin-Hardenne plays down French Open chances -
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2005, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Victorious Henin-Hardenne plays down French Open chances

Victorious Henin-Hardenne plays down French Open chances
Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:32 PM BST
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CHARLESTON, South Carolina, April 17 (Reuters) - Justine Henin-Hardenne played down her chances at next month's French Open despite Sunday's impressive win at the Family Circle Cup.

The former world number one, in her second tournament after six months out through illness and injury, crowned her comeback with a 7-5 6-4 win over second-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva to clinch her first title since the Olympic Games last August.

But although the 22-year-old showed signs she is regaining the form that won her three grand slam titles in 2003 and 2004, Henin-Hardenne said she was determined not to get carried away.

"It's still very far from now, and I still have many things to improve now to the French Open, and nothing is done," Henin-Hardenne said after winning here for the second time.

"I mean, I won here in Charleston, that's good, but I'll have two other tournaments, and I hope I can continue to build my confidence back. That's very important, I can play a lot of matches."

Henin-Hardenne is set to rise from number 43 to 22 when the world rankings are released on Monday, and good showings in her next two events, in Warsaw and Berlin, are likely to put her among the top 16 seeds at Roland Garros.


"I need to go step by step," Henin-Hardene said.

"It's only my second tournament. I won, that's great, but now I need to keep going. I need to improve what didn't work out this week in Charleston because not everything was perfect, and I need to keep working on this."

If her game is not yet back to its level of two years ago, her battling qualities were clear as she came from 5-3 down to win the first set, saving a set point in the process.

When Dementieva came back from 4-1 down to level at 4-4 and led 40-15 on her serve, a third set looked a real possibility.

But, as so often in the past, Henin-Hardenne found her best form when she needed to and broke the Russian before serving out for victory.

"I could never imagine that I would play at this level for my first tournament on clay and then win this tournament," she said.

" I had a pretty tough draw and, especially when you're unseeded, it's not easy. I played six matches here, which is good because physically I could see that I had a good recovery, but nothing in my mind when I arrived here in Charleston said that I could win."

Henin-Hardenne has planned her schedule carefully in the run-up to the French Open, which starts on May 23.

"I like to take my time before the French Open," she said. "I like to have two weeks just to rest a little bit, get prepared, go to Paris a few days earlier, and we'll see. It usually worked very good, so we'll see this year."


UPDATE 1-Henin-Hardenne caps return with Dementieva win
Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:08 PM BST
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CHARLESTON, April 17 (Reuters) - Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne put the seal on her comeback from illness and injury by beating Russian Elena Dementieva 7-5 6-4 to win the Family Circle Cup for a second time on Sunday.

The former world number one, playing only her second tournament after more than six months out, punched the air in delight after winning her first title since clinching Olympic gold in Athens last year.

It was the 20th tournament success of her career.

"It's amazing," Henin-Hardenne said. "I never thought when I came to Charleston that I could win this tournament."

In a match of the highest standard, second seed Dementieva, runner-up at the French Open and U.S. Open in 2004, began aggressively, pinning the Belgian well behind the baseline as she took a 5-3 lead.

The Russian forced a set point in the 10th game but Henin-Hardenne's forehand found the edge of the line and, after holding on for 5-5, she broke Dementieva two games later to take the set.

The players traded breaks at the start of the second set, but the Belgian's confidence was up and the 2003 champion broke twice to lead 4-1.

Dementieva refused to give up, however, breaking back twice to level at 4-4, before Henin-Hardenne, unseeded here after slipping down the rankings to number 43, broke again to lead 5-4 and then clinched a dramatic victory on her third match point.


"At 4-3, I could feel the pressure," Henin-Hardenne said. "But I am happy that I kept fighting at 4-4 and the fact that I could break her was very important for me."

When Henin-Hardenne clinched the Australian Open in January last year, it was her third success in four consecutive grand slams.

However, the Belgian was then struck down by a virus and although she returned as defending champion at the French Open, she went out in the second round.

Henin-Hardenne then produced an heroic effort to win Olympic gold in Athens but, after exiting in the fourth round at the U.S. Open, she did not play again for the rest of the year.

A knee injury kept her out of the Australian Open in January before she returned at last month's event in Miami, where she reached the quarter-finals.

"I have won 20 tournaments but this one is very special," added Henin-Hardenne.

"It's been very emotional for me today because I came from something really bad last year and I'm so proud of what I did this week."

Henin-Hardenne is set to rise to 22nd in the rankings, while Dementieva will remain as world number five.


"I think it was a great match," Dementieva said. "I just missed some opportunities in the first set when I was 5-3. I didn't take a risk and was maybe not as aggressive as I was earlier.

"Maybe it was just a bit of luck here and there but I think she deserved it. It's never easy to come back from injury and she played unbelievably on the important points.

"I missed a good chance to lead 5-4 in the second set, I was 40-15 up, but I am very satisfied with the way I played this week."

Dementieva, who will lead Russia in their Fed Cup first-round tie against Italy next weekend, believes she is on track for another strong showing at the French Open.

She lost to compatriot Anastasia Myskina in last year's final.

"I think this tournament can help me a lot," she said. "I've got my confidence.

"I just need some rest and will do a mental preparation. I hope to be in the same situation as last year. If I do, I'm sure I will not be so nervous."

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2005, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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April 17, 2005

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Henin-Hardenne Captures 2nd Family Circle Cup

CHARLESTON, S.C. - One year after Justine Henin-Hardenne was forced to withdraw from the Family Circle Cup with what turned out to be a long battle with a viral illness, the former world No.1 returned to the center stage in Charleston.
In just her second event of 2005, Henin-Hardenne captured her 20th career singles title on Sunday, defeating No.2 seed Elena Dementieva in the championship match, 75 64.

"When I decided to come back into competition, I knew what it was to win, but it's just amazing, my second tournament, and I win here in Charleston for the second time," Henin-Hardenne said. "Everything was perfect today. Even the match was very good, so that's very also positive for the future."

In the first set, Dementieva went up a break late in the set at 5-3 before things started heading south. After missing an opportunity to serve out the first set, Dementieva also failed to convert on a set point on Henin-Hardenne's serve at 5-4. Instead, the Belgian player won the final four games to take the set.

Henin-Hardenne was able to carry much of the momentum into the early stages of the second set. After each player traded early breaks, Henin-Hardenne was able to hold serve and eventually emerge with a 4-1 lead.

But Dementieva grabbed a break back for 4-2 and then held serve for the first time since the seventh game of the match for 4-3. After breaking once more to even the match at 4-4, Dementieva was unable to keep on serve as Henin-Hardenne breaks back for 5-4 and then served out the match - winning the title on her third championship point.

"I never thought about winning this tournament when I arrived here," Henin-Hardenne said. "Every time I go on the court it's to win the match, but I was very focused on my first round and then my second round, and I just went step by step, but I could never imagine that I would play this level for my first tournament on clay and then win this tournament.

"I had a pretty tough draw, and especially when you're unseeded, it's not easy. I played six matches here, which is good, because physically I could see that I had a good recovery, but nothing in my mind that I could win when I arrived here in Charleston."

Dating back to her 2003 run at Charleston, Henin-Hardenne is now 11-0 at the South Carolina event. She is also 10-1 since making her 2005 debut at Miami where she reached the quarterfinals.

"It is a very good place," said Henin-Hardenne on her fondness for Charleston. "It's such a nice atmosphere. I think that the crowd gave me such great support, and especially this year that they knew I was coming back, it was probably a little bit more support again, but I never lost a match here in Charleston, so I hope I can keep going this way and I'll come back next year for sure."

Henin-Hardenne also joined Iva Majoli as the only unseeded title winners at Charleston and is also the third straight unseeded player to win a Tier I title this year. Countrywoman Kim Clijsters was unseeded in her recent title runs at Indian Wells and Miami.

The former world No.1 started off her week at Charleston with a three-set victory against No.10 seed Jelena Jankovic. From there, she also needed three sets to defeat Shuai Peng before reaching the quarterfinals with a straight sets win against Iveta Benesova.

A much-anticipated matchup against world No.1 Lindsay Davenport was unable to be fully-completed as Davenport was forced to withdrawal at the start of the third set with a right hip flexor strain.

Henin-Hardenne then managed to move into the championship match by holding off No.13 seed Tatiana Golovin in the semifinals.

After looking invincible in the early stages of 2004, Henin-Hardenne spent much of the year's final eight months battling the effects of cytomegalovirus. She made a remarkable return to tennis in August to win an Olympic Gold medal for Belgium in Athens. Then, after a fourth round loss at the US Open, Henin-Hardenne decided to spend the rest of 2004 recovering from the viral illness.

A right knee injury suffered during a practice session in late December delayed the start of her season before she finally took the court at Miami where she won four matches before a three-set loss to Maria Sharapova in the quarters.

Dementieva, the runner-up last year on the red clay at Roland Garros, said she had her chances in the match and despite the loss, is pleased with her first clay tournament of the year.

"I think it was a great match," Dementieva said. "I think it was pretty close. I could win, but I just missed some opportunities in the first set when I was 5-3 up, and I just didn't take risks."

In doubles, the No.2 seeded tandem of Conchita Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual won their first title as a team, defeating unseeded Czech duo Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke, 61 64.

Ruano Pascual takes one half of the doubles title for the third consecutive year. She won the title in 2003 and 2004 with Paola Suarez. The victory marks the 32nd title of her career and is only the 4th career title she has won with a partner other than Suarez.

Martinez wins her 12th career doubles title and first since winning Dubai in 2004.

Benesova and Peschke were playing together in their second final of 2005 after already winning a title at Paris [Indoors]. Peschke also reached the Amelia Island final the previous week while playing alongside Patty Schnyder.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2005, 12:23 AM
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