JH-H, Kuznetsova to meet in clay-courters' final
Vaidisova, Clijsters fold under Slam pressure
By Matthew Cronin, TennisReporters. net
DAY 12 FROM ROLAND GARROS
– Justine Henin-Hardenne and Svetlana Kuznetsova bore through the pressure, while Nicole Vaidisova and Kim Clijsters did not.
The little Belgian and the tree trunk legged Russian
will face off the Roland Garros final, while the 17-year-old and the birthday girl could only walk away wondering what might have occurred if they maintained their composure.
Vaidisova had the '04 U.S. Open champion dead to rights before falling apart 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-2 on Thursday.
"I had my chances, of course. It happens," said Vaidisova, "Of course I'm disappointed. I love to win and I hate to lose. But I can be proud of how I did."
Clijsters, who turned 23 on Thursday, never believed she could hang with her countrywoman and fell 6-3, 6-2.
"She's by far the best clay court player," Clijsters said. "She's really consistent. The difference is between her and, I think any other player, is that she just moves so well. It's not that she hits the ball harder than any of us, it's just that she moves so well. You can hit two, three winners and you think now you have a winner, but against her they just keep coming back.
As expected by many, Clijsters froze again Henin-Hardenne.
She doesn't believe in herself against her Fed Cup teammate on clay and midway through the first set, once Justine had pumped up the volume, Clijsters forgot that extending rallies on occasion might be beneficial to her.
So she counterpunched back hard at times, but too often was drawn into errors. Henin-Hardenne served better, was much more consistent off her forehand side and far better defensively. She absolutely torched her returns.
She simply out-classed Kim who really could have used a coach on this occasion.
She's done okay without Marc Dehous since they separated last October, but he would have drawn up a far better plan then Kim and her dad brought out on Thursday. You have to work Justine over to beat her on clay, because there's no way you can hit straight through her.
Clijsters made that mistake on Thursday and for the fourth time in their six Slam meetings, Henin-Hardenne walked away the victory and now will play for her third Slam crown.
"I felt like a lot of the times, the rallies, I was dominating the points, but, I just couldn't finish them off," Clijsters said. "I knew that was going to happen because I know she's a player who defends incredibly well out there on clay. On a hard court, you can hit a shot and most, like 99 percent it's a winner. Here on clay, they keep coming back. I don't think I was consistent enough to keep going for those lines. I think that's where I messed up a few times, on those important points."
If Henin-Hardenne wins the title, she'll be the first player of her generation to bag three French crowns. That's will give her a triple in this decade, making her the RG player of the young century.
"I know that she's gonna have a lot of motivation," Henin-Hardenne said. "She is a great player. She has the experience. So it's going to be a tough one. I know I will have to be at my best level if I want to win on Saturday. We always had tough matches, especially on clay. She's very powerful. I think that helps her on clay court and especially with her forehand. She proved again today that she's a real fighter. For sure she will want to win and take a bit of revenge of what happened last year here."
VAIDISOVA BANGS OUT EARLY, THEN DEFLATES
In the other semi, Vaidisova charged back to win the first set and overwhelmed Kuznetsova with her gigantic first serve, big forehand and her return. She wasn't getting pulled around in rallies and was displaying top-notch defense for someone of her height.
But then she had to close the match out and, unlike against Amelie Mauresmo and Venus Williams, she teetered. She played an awful game served for the match at 5-4 the second set.
But it was in the tiebreak where her inexperience really showed. At 5-5, the Russian floated a drop shot just inside the service line, a sitter that should have been smoothed down the line. But she yanked a forehand wide, then parked a backhand and the match slid out of control from there, as Sveta began to play consistently and work her forehand.
"If you hit to her all the time, it's so comfortable," she said. "The stronger sometimes you hit, the stronger she will answer it. Sometimes you change a little and it's bounce more difficult, then she does mistake. For her to move is little tough. She has very long arms and legs and she covers lots of the court. So once you move her, it's very tough. Maybe bounce a little bit. It takes her time to adjust. Okay, I mean, drop shot was not good (smiling). It was maybe lob-drop shot."
Kuznetsova was never threatened and now she gets to avenge her choke to Henin-Hardenne last year and her gag to Anastasia Myskina two years ago. She comes a long way from the fragile woman who couldn't buy a win late last summer.
"It's amazing, no? Sometimes it comes back to you, not only going other way, because I been here two years, fourth round every time, losing match points. Justine, Anastasia [Myskina], every time. Now it's means a lot to me to be in the final here because I didn't put my hands down. I just been working. I been through low year last year and I been still working hard. I never was thinking even to stop doing something, to stop working. I just had little doubts if it's gonna come the way I want to, if I gonna make it through. But I always been trying. … Definitely it's gonna be very hard match. I just have to play, forget all the matches from the past. This is only chance I have. … I just want to give a fight. Of course I would be unbelievable happy if I will take revenge."
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