First and foremost, Justine Henin is undoubtedly the best player of the moment and deserving number one. But isn’t it quite ridiculous how some people have been SERIOUSLY using recent stats and H2H to predict domination – or just How much better Justine is than the sisters GENERALLY?
I’ll start with Serena.
Serena: I’m not her biggest fan, and I know she let herself down with her comments – but lets talk about her tennis. Serena Williams has not been playing well in recent times. She had 3 really good matches at the AO (Against Santangelo, Petrova and Sharapova), and 3 in Miami (Final, Against Maria and against Safarova) – but her other matches this entire year have been pretty poor. She has struggled in the majority of them, particularly in her matches after Miami. She has had to will herself and scream her way to wins against sub-top 20 players because her game is just not in place. She was brought to tears by Pironkova and again almost, in her first round of Wimbledon. When Serena is playing well / Had she been in consistent good form – I’m sorry but it just wouldn’t be that way.
Some people got carried away after her 2 title wins and assumed she was back near her best, but she isn’t and was not. She’s on the right track, but has been patchy since AO 2005 or before. Yes she is older, but that’s no excuse for her poor footwork.
Venus: Venus was generally so bad that her Wimbledon 2005 win was called a fluke! Before then, and after then, Venus was in poor form due to lack of confidence and health issues. Even after wimbledon this year, was labelled a one court wonder which is not the case when Venus is in form. [For the record; some of her earliest titles came on clay]. In recent times she was barely able to compete against top 10 players, and lost most if not all encounters. That was until Wimbledon 4th round. Since then, bare one loss and 3 poor matches (linked with her AMENIA) she has started to find her consistent good form, and has beaten everyone in the top 10 except for Henin and Serena (who she has not played).
Her match with Henin was VERY close. One bad service game to start the match, but after that they went toe to toe (both could play better). I think her performance was summed up in that 3-3 game that she lost after having 3 break points in a row. On one of those points, she got on top in a rally and was left with an easy ball to put away. She could have hit it cross court, and it would have been a winner had she hit it in, but she hit it out. There were a number of times in the match when Venus just didn’t do enough with the ball to put it away (volley’s, smashes) and Henin took advantage. That’s a tactical error she can improve on for their next encounters, a kind of problem that could have seen a closer score line / a win for Venus. [Venus’ first serve percentage also plummeted in that final set].
Justine’s wins have come fair in square for the most part, like people say, if you’re good to go – you’re fit. But people overlook the fact that Serena is not in good form. At best all we can conclude is that Serena (and Venus) need to be in good form and to play well to beat Henin – but it’s OTT to suggest domination, that the WS are no longer factors.
Henin has been one of the most consistent players in recent years, because of hard work to her credit. But also don’t forget the WS have not been allowed to be consistent on the tour in general in recent times because of their sister’s murder, and serious injuries. They are still on the road back, and I imagine in 2008 will be playing better. Lets wait till then before talking about dominance.