Henin-Hardenne Wears French Open Favorite Label - TennisForum.com

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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 05:46 AM Thread Starter
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Henin-Hardenne Wears French Open Favorite Label

Henin-Hardenne Wears French Open Favorite Label

Photo By Fred Mullane By Richard Pagliaro
05/18/2005

Justine Henin-Hardenne isn't into labels, but concedes she's earned a tag tougher to shed than a tattoo on the tip of her tongue — top contender to raise the Roland Garros title trophy. The French Open begins Monday, but Henin-Hardenne is already the strong favorite to contest the championship on the final Saturday.
The 2003 Roland Garros champion carries impressive credentials into the French fortnight: a 20-1 record, a WTA Tour-best 17-match match winning streak and three consecutive clay-court championships to her credit.

"I’m aware of that, I can’t deny it," Henin-Hardenne said of her well-earned status as French favorite. "Roland Garros works both ways for me, it’s the place where I want to shine, I’ve done very well in Paris, but I also did bad, we’ll try to make the best of it this year."

On the salmon-colored stage of Roland Garros, Henin-Hardenne has endured emotional extremes as disparate as the images of the Mona Lisa and mug shot. In the 2001, she held a 6-2, 4-2 lead against compatriot Kim Clijsters and was two games from reaching her first Grand Slam final before buckling beneath the burden of pressure and blowing a one-set, 4-2 advantage, losing her nerve, the lead and ultimately the match, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The next year, a bout with bronchitis took a toll on Henin-Hardenne as she bowed to qualifier Aniko Kapros in the opening round before bouncing back in 2003 to hand Serena Williams a memorable — and controversial — semifinal setback and conquer Clijsters in the final to claim her first Grand Slam.

Sustaining the schizophrenic trend she's followed in alternate years in Paris, Henin-Hardenne became the first top seed to lose before the third round in the 79-year history of the Roland Garros women's singles with the illness-induced 7-5, 6-4 second-round loss to Tathiana Garbin last May.

"She played a very good match. What could I say? It was my bad day and it was her great day. There's nothing else to say," Henin-Hardenne said. "She took her chances, and I wasn't the player I have been for 12 months now. But it's okay, it's life."

She's waited a year to erase the memory of that loss and her ability to rebound at Roland Garros is reminiscent of her skill and smoothly transitioning from defense to offense in the course of a rally.

"She is as fluent on defense as she is on offense and that's what makes her such a tough clay courter," ESPN analyst Mary Carillo said."

The versatility Henin-Hardenne possesses enables her to play larger than her 5-foot-5 frame. She can break open a rally by slithering a slice backhand into the corner to unsettle opponents or beat them outright with topspin off both sides. A key component to her success on clay is her quick court coverage that enables her to combat bigger and stronger opponents by absorbing their best blows and spitting shots right back at them — often using angles against the player who initiates them.

"Hingis and Justine Henin Hardenne are the same height, but what Justine has done that Hingis was never able to do is to make herself fit enough to go up against the physical players like Davenport, Serena, Capriati and Venus," Carillo said. "Hingis started getting overwhelmed by all that power and her game started shaking and she didn't do anything about it whereas Justine — who had been known as a choke artist earlier in her career while Kim Clijsters was considered mentally tougher — just overhauled everything and was willing to start from the inside out."

The red clay that stains the shoes and soils the socks of players pursuing success is a reminder that in order to craft clay-court success competitors must be willing to do the dirty work. Toiling in the trenches has never been a problem for the strong-willed Belgian whose grueling Saddlebrook workouts under the guidance of fitness guru Pat Etcheberry can make an early-round match seem as taxing as a stroll down the Champs Elysees in comparison.

Despite her draining duel with the virus that sapped her strength and eradicated her energy last year, Henin-Hardenne has come back strong this year in solidifying her status as the fittest woman on the WTA Tour. Her phenomenal fitness level enables. In short, being stronger makes Henin-Hardenne a smarter and tougher competitor.

"She reminds me in her work ethic of Lendl," ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe said in a conference call with the media today to promote the network's French Open coverage. "Ivan had trouble with choking and when Lendl got himself so strong and fit that really enabled him to overcome the nerves. I spent some time down in Florida watching Justine work out a couple of years ago and she's just a war horse. She works so hard."

While Henin-Hardenne's work ethic evokes comparisons to Lendl, perhaps the player who influenced her the most is another Hall of Famer and fellow adidas endorser with a one-handed backhand — Steffi Graf. The passion, perfection, professionalism and purpose the six-time French Open champion brought to her practices and matches are the same qualities she sees in Henin-Hardenne.

"She's somebody that really, she works physically hard, she's very committed to the sport," Graf said of Henin-Hardenne. "She tried different aspects to make herself better. She maybe doesn't have the physical stature; she's not as tall as other players, but she'll make it up with speed, with working out a little more, and you can see it. I find little similarity in that sense in how I approach the game, and I guess that that's where I look at her and say, well, it's great to have the desire, and then obviously, there's a passion in how she plays and the dedication."

Taking a cue from the one Grand Slam champion closest to Graf — 1999 Roland Garros champion Andre Agassi — Henin-Hardenne is committed to continually improving her game.

"I want to keep making progress just like Andre Agassi who, on the age of 35, keeps questioning himself and searches for things to improve," Henin-Hardenne said. "In the mean time, I’m getting back in the race, which is amazing."

Given her drive and success on a clay-court track, don't be surprised to see Henin-Hardenne holding the trophy at the finish line.
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 05:55 AM
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Great one! I loved it!

In the Eurosport article, Justine says "I'm only 22". Loved that!

~ JUSTINE ~

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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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She's going to eat the Roland Garros field alive. 6-3 6-1 victories against top players
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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Good luck baby

Awe Queen Maria
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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If Serena is the bull, Juju is the little red rag ...............

Of course Juju is the fav, clay is her surface. That just takes all the pressure off everyone else. They're gonna love it!

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Last edited by fifiricci; May 19th, 2005 at 08:10 AM.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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The quotes aren't new. The JHH quote is from Berlin before Amelie
won Rome.

The pressure isn't on Justine, it's sort of on everyone. She's not
the #1 seed as Lindsay, nor defending champion as Myskina is,
doesn't have the burden of trying to become #1 like
Maria, and isn't carrying the tag of bridesmaid like Amelie, Elena D
and Kim. Justine also doesn't have the over the top expectations
like Serena does everytime she plays a match in public.


Rather sour grapes for some people to try to ruin this
perfectly decent article and downgrade it with snide
remarks.

Maybe she'll die on court if that will make you happy.

Co-Founder of JUSTINE Philistines' Society
Paul Weller & Morrissey + Tennis - Singing = Justine!

"I hung onto tennis. I have done so for the past 20 years.
It is something that is in me, it is me." - JH
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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Very nice article!
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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 08:28 AM
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The least they could have done is show a picture of her wearing the label they speak of. I wonder what colour it was?

~ gonna teach you tricks that'll blow your mongrel mind ~
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 08:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by per4ever
Very nice article!

The EUROSPORT article is better. All the quotes seem to
be from the video shown on the French Eurosport site, and
from Berlin.

Co-Founder of JUSTINE Philistines' Society
Paul Weller & Morrissey + Tennis - Singing = Justine!

"I hung onto tennis. I have done so for the past 20 years.
It is something that is in me, it is me." - JH
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonBcn
The least they could have done is show a picture of her wearing the label they speak of. I wonder what colour it was?
It's bound to have a label like this:




"Handwash only!"


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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Great article.She's definitely my fave for RG.
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenout
The quotes aren't new. The JHH quote is from Berlin before Amelie
won Rome.

The pressure isn't on Justine, it's sort of on everyone. She's not
the #1 seed as Lindsay, nor defending champion as Myskina is,
doesn't have the burden of trying to become #1 like
Maria, and isn't carrying the tag of bridesmaid like Amelie, Elena D
and Kim. Justine also doesn't have the over the top expectations
like Serena does everytime she plays a match in public.


Rather sour grapes for some people to try to ruin this
perfectly decent article and downgrade it with snide
remarks.

Maybe she'll die on court if that will make you happy.
We have to be realistic. Never has there been a player who was able to win a slam after a long (injury/sickness) break. Seles, Graf, Serena, ... couldn't do it. They are greater champions than Justine. It would be a big achievement if she were able to to it.

AND

Justine is not as fit as in 2003. She had a lot of very difficult matches and one of those she would have probably lost (against Davenport).

RG is not Berlin. The surface at RG is a lot faster and it has more bounce. So, players like Serena (power), Sharapova (speed), Mauresmo (bounce) and Schnyder (bounce) stand a better chance against her. It's not really a surprise that Justine beats the crap out of everyone in Berlin. That surface is made for her. A pity that the rest of the tour doesn't have the same surface.
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rikvanlooy
We have to be realistic. Never has there been a player who was able to win a slam after a long (injury/sickness) break. Seles, Graf, Serena, ... couldn't do it. They are greater champions than Justine. It would be a big achievement if she were able to to it.

AND

Justine is not as fit as in 2003. She had a lot of very difficult matches and one of those she would have probably lost (against Davenport).

RG is not Berlin. The surface at RG is a lot faster and it has more bounce. So, players like Serena (power), Sharapova (speed), Mauresmo (bounce) and Schnyder (bounce) stand a better chance against her. It's not really a surprise that Justine beats the crap out of everyone in Berlin. That surface is made for her. A pity that the rest of the tour doesn't have the same surface.

You didn't read my post correctly. I never said she's
the favorite nor the winner. I stated that the pressure
is on everyone.

Your right, everyone has something to go for; thus the
pressure is on everyone that matters.

Co-Founder of JUSTINE Philistines' Society
Paul Weller & Morrissey + Tennis - Singing = Justine!

"I hung onto tennis. I have done so for the past 20 years.
It is something that is in me, it is me." - JH
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rikvanlooy
We have to be realistic. Never has there been a player who was able to win a slam after a long (injury/sickness) break. Seles, Graf, Serena, ... couldn't do it. They are greater champions than Justine. It would be a big achievement if she were able to to it.

AND

Justine is not as fit as in 2003. She had a lot of very difficult matches and one of those she would have probably lost (against Davenport).

RG is not Berlin. The surface at RG is a lot faster and it has more bounce. So, players like Serena (power), Sharapova (speed), Mauresmo (bounce) and Schnyder (bounce) stand a better chance against her. It's not really a surprise that Justine beats the crap out of everyone in Berlin. That surface is made for her. A pity that the rest of the tour doesn't have the same surface.
She wouldn't lost the match against Davenport! Don't see any indication that she would! That's just a speculation...
Berlin was quite fast, btw. The game in Rome looked like in slow motion comparing to it!

Does her problems in the early round has anything to do with fitness? I don't know, I'm really asking.
For me the other factors were more of the case.
I do't know how fit she is, but winning 11 matches in 2 weeks, and most of them were really long, is kinda impressive!

~ JUSTINE ~

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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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She isn't as fit as in 2003, that's for certain, but you can't sustain a 17 match winning streak without a certain level of fitness! It's just slightly less than the phenomenal physical level she was at a couple of years ago. Generally, I'd agree that RG is faster than Berlin and even Rome, but the forecasted rain should make the courts slower and heavier which works well for Justine.
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