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Tech1
Jun 23rd, 2007, 06:41 AM
Henin the best bet against more Williams success

Can Justine Henin stop the Williams sisters meeting in another family affair at the Wimbledon final?

Steve Bierley


June 23, 2007 12:43 AM
Serena and Venus Williams, with five Wimbledon singles titles between them, remain perfectly capable of wrecking the aspirations of all the other leading contenders for this year's title and will in all probability find extra inspiration from being in different halves of the draw. There have been six all-Williams grand slam finals, with Serena winning five, including both her Wimbledon titles. Could it happen again?

When Serena, an eight-times grand slam winner, sets her mind on a title, nobody in the current game can hold her back. This was underlined at this year's Australian Open when, unseeded and patently under-prepared, she used the early rounds to play herself in and then crushed Maria Sharapova in the final with withering intent.

If she returns to the All England Club in that frame of mind, then perhaps the only player standing between her and the title will be Justine Henin of Belgium. Henin, separated from her husband but reunited with her family after years of estrangement, is not the power on grass she is on clay, where she won her fourth French Open title this year, defeating Serena in the quarter-finals, but the clarity in her private life may help lift her to the one grand slam title she has yet to win.

Should she meet Serena again in the quarter-finals, the winner may feel the title is in the bag, particularly if Venus has dispatched Sharapova, the 2004 champion, in the other half, where they are seeded to meet in the fourth round. The US-based Russian holds a 3-1 career advantage, although the only time they have met at Wimbledon, two years ago, produced the most fearsome hitting seen on the Centre Court in a women's match, Venus winning 7-6, 6-1 and going on to take her third title.

The chances of Venus recapturing that form appear somewhat remote. After she lost tamely to Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in the third round of the French Open her father, Richard, suggested she had been afraid to hit the ball and would be better retiring. Such is the older sister's presence on grass that it would be a foolhardy critic who ruled her out of the title equation.

France's Amélie Mauresmo delighted almost everybody by winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year, having finally managed to overcome the nerves that plagued her. She will have watched with sympathy the disintegration of Serbia's 19-year-old Ana Ivanovic in the French Open final against Henin.

Ivanovic, seeded to meet Mauresmo for a place in the semi-finals, is a wonderfully clean hitter who, it must be hoped, will put that experience quickly aside and begin to challenge for the world's leading titles, as could her compatriot Jankovic.

It is 30 years since Virginia Wade won the title, three decades of stagnancy for British women with no one now in the world's top 150. All five wild cards will do well to win a match, although the 18-year-old Naomi Cavaday, the pick of the current crop, will surely relish her match against the 1997 champion, Martina Hingis.

lecciones
Jun 23rd, 2007, 11:33 AM
Hingis as the last word. :) hehehe