Why Justine Henin is set for another massive year in 2008
Sun, Dec 16, 07 08:18Aasim Shaffi
Justine Henin: Brilliant and mentally tough.
The Belgian is on top of the world after enjoying a stunning season - and goes into the new year with a new-found mental toughness after seeing off the Williams sisters in the US Open.
'Henin's net play is bliss, she can do anything when she employs a volley' Justine Henin is recognised as one of the greats and rightly so, but what makes her so perfect? It is a combination of beauty, variety and elegance making all aspects of her game bullet-proof.
When taking into account her height, Justine’s serve is more then impressive. It can stretch both ways and packs a punch. Her backhand stood out when she was a youngster, the stunning one-handed swipe is all about consistency. The backhand may look the best side, but the forehand is more lethal when she uses it to launch herself into the ball and deliverer a mighty thump.
Both wings are also very good defences. She can use them to block and deflect balls with a decent amount of pace. The Henin slice can show up deep inside the baseline and at the net. And the pace of the slice can easily change the flow of rallies in the Belgian’s favour. Her net play is bliss, she can do anything when she employs a volley. Justine’s speed is key to her amazing defensive structure. Despite her height she covers the court extremely well and never leaves a short ball unpunished.
She does disappoint occasionally - an example was the Wimbledon semi-final against Marion Bartoli when her normally solid serve was a shambles on the day. Henin finished her 2007 season with five straight tournament wins. But she didn’t maintain her highest levels all the way through. She wasn’t too great in Toronto and Zurich, yet she did enough to win two tier 1s. So the Belgian doesn’t need to be at her best level to win big tournaments but when brilliance is called for, she comes up with the goods - the later stages of the US Open and Madrid final are examples.
Justine’s mental strength has been tested this year. She stated that she was scared of the Williams sisters, but after straight-sets consecutive victories over them in the US open, the fear dissipated. Following her divorce, she has built bridges with her family. It seems that Justine is finally opening up to her emotions on court. But there is no real worry about her mental strength, her seven Grand Slams are testament to this.
So how will Henin fare in 2008? The rivalry with Serena Williams is still alive and if the American can maintain her fitness then the two players should meet a few times. Venus Williams is also a big threat, but again, her fitness may be a factor.
Justine will be also be keeping an eye out for Amelie Mauresmo - she has said that playing someone with a similar style is tough. Mauresmo did stop Justine from winning Wimbledon and the French player will pose a big threat if she makes a comeback. Lindsay Davenport is almost certain to climb back to the top but Justine is too smart to underestimate the American. Maria Sharapova will also pitch big but when Justine is at her top form she is in control. The Serbians are along way from really challenging her.
So Justine Henin comes into 2008 at the top of her game. She will need to be at her best to repeat her stunning 2007 season. But one thing is for sure, she will always be among the elite and her Slam wins will roll into double digits.
Let the fun begin!!!!!
Here's wishing you yet another GREAT year Justine!