Justine Henin wins US Open in one-sided final
By Clive White
Whatever one may think about the Williams sisters, they were sorely missed here last night, as was Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic or anyone else capable of bringing a bit of pizzazz to the party.
The classical beauty of Justine Henin's game might have sufficed, but even the world's No1 didn't seem in the mood last night.
We had feared for this US Open women's singles from the moment the bottom half of the draw virtually disintegrated after just three rounds with the loss of Sharapova, Martina Hingis, Nadia Petrova and Nicole Vaidisova.
It was always likely that the top half would produce the eventual winner and once Henin had seen off the challenge off both Serena and Venus Williams, the title was all but hers.
In beating Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and 22 minutes she became the first person to beat the sisters en route to a major title.
The final game of the match just about summed it up: back-to-back double faults from Henin, followed later by a third and still the Russian could not take advantage. And then d**k Enberg, the anchor man for CBS and on-court master of ceremonies, topped it all off by saying, "Congratulations, Justine Henin-Hardenne" before quickly correcting himself.
Henin was divorced from Pierre-Yves Hardenne earlier this year.
There surely have been few flatter finals in the history of the event.
It was almost embarrassing to watch Henin clamber up into the stands to hug her coach and mentor Carlos Rodriguez, but then she does owe him quite a lot.
"We've been together for 11 years," she said. "He makes me a better player and a better person and I wouldn't be this Justine without him."
No one can dispute she isn't the best player in the world, certainly on clay and hard court, and she proved it again here by seeing off the very real threat of not one Williams but two.
Martina Hingis also managed it at the Australian Open in 2001 but then lost in the final.
Henin's victory meant she moved one ahead of Venus in the all-time slam-winners' list. They are tied on 35 Sony Ericsson WTA tour titles each.
Henin came into the match with an overwhelming 14-2 advantage in head-to-heads, but the Russian had won their last meeting, in Berlin.
That, however, was on clay. On this faster surface the heavier Russian girl was no match for a nymph like Henin, who raced into a 3-0 lead.
When Henin served two consecutive double faults in the fourth game - she had trouble with her serve throughout in a windy Arthur Ashe stadium court - and Kuznetsova failed to capitalize one knew it was definitely not her night.
Henin took the first set in 33 minutes. It didn't get any better for the 2004 US Open champion in the second set either and before the match had ended she had made 17 errors on her forehand alone.
When match point finally arrived for the four-time French Open champion, Kuznetsova couldn't even bring herself to chase after the winning lob.