By Iain Rogers
BERLIN, May 8 (Reuters) - World number one Justine Henin said she was short on confidence after her surprise defeat by Dinara Safina in the German Open third round on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Belgian is still favourite to win a fifth French Open title next month but her early exit in Berlin, where she has won three times, has not helped her preparations.
“This tournament was important not only for the French Open,” a subdued Henin told a news conference after her 5-7 6-3 6-1 loss. “It was important for me to get some confidence back and that’s really what I miss right now.”
Henin, who uncharacteristically served seven double faults against Safina, is due to play in Rome next week and will take a few days off before then to recuperate and take stock.
“It’s not a problem with my tennis or a physical problem,” she said. “I just lacked the courage to really grasp the opportunities and I have to work on that.
“I wish I could have had more matches but I also feel on the court that it’s not enough and that’s hard. But we’ll see in the next few weeks.”
With seven grand slam titles to her name, including two U.S. Opens and one at the Australian Open, Henin has already started cutting back her schedule and is planning for a retirement she said this week could come in the next two to five years.
The Belgian added that she was eyeing a future of leisurely travel and also planned to undertake some sort of study as a way of making the sacrifices required on the tour worthwhile.
Safina said she was sure Henin would return to top form once she had more tournaments under her belt.
“When you have everything it’s sometimes hard to motivate,” she told a news conference.
“In your mind you get tired. Maybe you take a little breather. I don’t think it will affect Justine’s tennis. Maybe she’ll take a little break but then she’ll be even more eager.
“I think it’s not possible to be 100 percent every tournament, every week. I mean we're human beings.”