Henin-Hardenne Rallies Past
Clijsters to Win German Open
.c The Associated Press
BERLIN (May 11) -- Justine Henin-Hardenne fought off three match points and won the German Open for the second straight year, defeating Kim Clijsters 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 Sunday in an all-Belgian final.
Henin-Hardenne won her third title of the year and became the first player in nine years to retain her championship at this important clay-court tuneup for this month's French Open.
The 2-hour, 15-minute match ended when Clijsters hit a forehand long. She lost the last game at love after wasting the three match points while leading 5-4.
Clijsters, ranked No. 2, played with a bandaged left thigh after the first set because of a strained hamstring but it did not seem to affect her play.
Clijsters has had trouble converting match points. In Saturday's semifinal, she needed four to beat Jennifer Capriati, and at the Australian Open she held two before losing to top-ranked Serena Williams.
"I think, maybe, I have a problem with that,'' Clijsters said.
Henin-Hardenne, ranked No. 4 and seeded second behind Clijsters, ended a three-match losing streak to her countrywoman. She had beaten Clijsters the last time they faced each other on clay, and held a 2-1 edge on the surface.
Henin-Hardenne appeared to have the match under control when she led 6-4, 4-1. Then Clijsters rattled off 16 straight points and forced a third set.
A more muscular Henin-Hardenne is enjoying a top year. One of her titles came at Charleston, S.C., where she ended Serena Williams' 21-match winning streak in the final. For her career, she has nine clay-court titles.
Congrats JuJu for defending though.