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mykarma
Mar 31st, 2007, 02:42 AM
By: Sandra Harwitt
http://images.sonyericssonopen.com/content/0000000312_m.jpgThe Sony Ericsson Open has a long and rich history of featuring top quality matches.

Today’s women’s final continues that exciting tradition as the two top players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour this season will compete for the Sony Ericsson Open title.

World No. 1 Justine Henin is looking for her first career trophy here at Miami, while Serena Williams is hoping to pull in her fourth Sony Ericsson Open trophy. The two have practically identical winning records this season – Henin is 15-1 while Williams is 14-1 heading into the championship match this afternoon.

Let’s take a look at the 24-year-old Henin.

The Belgium is a highly accomplished player with five career Grand Slam titles to her credit. While Maria Sharapova started the tournament with a threat of overtaking the top ranking, when she lost in the fourth-round, Henin was safe for a 59th career week at No. 1. She was the 13th player to earn the right to be called No. 1.

Henin has won 31 career titles and also had the privilege of winning the Olympic gold medal in 2004.

Henin skipped playing the opening month of 2007 for personal reasons, and needed some time for adjustment. She reached the semifinals at her first tournament of the year at the Paris Indoors event and then won the title at both Dubai and Doha. As she heads into today’s final, she’s on a 2007 tour-best 13-match winning streak.

The Belgian is a very impressive player on the court and while she’s certainly one of the slightest women in the game these days, she packs quite a punch on her shots.

The worry about Henin is that she claims to not be feeling all that well in recent weeks, explaining that she’s been having some trouble breathing. It’s hard to play against someone who is as on top of her game as Serena is this year without being at 100 percent.

Now let’s talk about Serena Williams.

After being sidelined for most of the 2006 season with injury, Williams has returned to the tour this year with a plan of winning everything in her sights.
She started the year with a quarterfinal showing at the Hobart tournament before scoring her eighth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

In all, she has won 27 titles, won six Grand Slam doubles trophies with big sis Venus Williams, and won two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles with Max Mirnyi.

Henin might have become the 13th woman in history to reach No. 1, but Serena was ahead of her as she became the 11th woman to be ranked No. 1, a distinction she held for 57 weeks.

She started this season ranked very low at No. 95, was unseeded when she won the Australian Open, and is now ranked No. 18. If she wins today’s Sony Ericsson Open final over Henin, Williams will move up to No. 11. If she loses against Henin, she’ll go up to No. 12. But fans can anticipate that Serena Williams will be back in the top 10 sooner than later.

There are a number of factors that work in Williams favor as these two accomplished players head into the final.

One is that Williams considers this tournament home turf – she lives just a little over an hour away in Palm Beach Gardens. She’s has an impressive 40-5 winning record at the tournament. In comparison, this has not been a favorite stop for Henin, who finds March a difficult month as it is the time of the year that her mother died of cancer when she was 12. She has not played here steadily and only has a 12-5 win-loss record coming into the final.

A second advantage for Williams is that she holds a 5-3 winning edge over Henin in career matches and has only lost to the Belgian on clay.

A third thing to make note of is that Henin admits to not feeling her best and is looking a bit tired. Now to be honest, we’ve seen this from Justine before and she has made it through matches unscathed. But I can assure you that Serena is feeling on top of the world and ready to go.

This match has the potential to be a top quality encounter, but when the last ball is struck, it’s more than likely that Williams will be the winner.

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Wannabeknowitall
Mar 31st, 2007, 03:14 AM
This article really draws the line.
I just think it's unprofessional for any sports writer to write down an advantage for one player is being that another player's family member die around this time years ago.

If any sports writer would have written that for the Serena/Mauresmo match last year, that the advantage goes to Mauresmo because Serena's sister Yetunde died around this time years ago, there would have been a catastrophic uproar on this forum.

The writer of this article could have easily presented an advantage without bringing up that topic.