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Volcana
Jan 5th, 2002, 11:24 PM
You get the feeling somehow that Justine never really took any time off. I'm sure she does, but lordy, lordy lordy the girl does play a lot!

However, Gold Coast gave us a perfect demostration of Justine's perch in the tennis hierarchy. Excluding an opening set loss, 1-6, when she clearly was recovering from partying FAR too hard :), Justine ripped off six straight sets of 6-2 or better.

16 1-6
16 6-0 6-2 def Daniela HANTUCHOVA (SVK)
QF 6-2 6-1 def Anca BARNA (GER)
SF 6-2 6-2 def Daja BEDANOVA (CZE)

Which is exactly what a solid top ten player should do against outside-the-top twenty competition.

It says, 'Last year wasn't a fluke.', pretty clearly.

Then she loses to Venus Williams in straight sets. Again, that's as last year was as well. I think Justine is licking her chops waiting for another shot at Venus on clay.

So Justine isn't as good as Venus yet. Big deal. She'll get better. She's the younger player. And she has something now no one but Serena usually has. Going into OZ, Justine knows EXACTLY how Veus is playing. And she has a week to make adjustment and think about it. I think the sheer pace of the game when they play Venus is a shock to many players. If they meet again at OZ, Justine will be ready. Whether she'll execute or not is another matter.

Venus executes under pressure better than anyone else on the tour.
Justine still had breakdown ocasionally in high pressure moments.

It took Venus four years to go from where Justine is now to where Venus is now. And a lot of that is growing up. Gaining control over your body and your emotions. Justine does the kind of things under pressure that used to drive you crazy about Venus in 1999. Playing brillaintly while losing. Inexplicable unforced errors. DERANGED shot choices about once a tournament.

It must be nice to be so talented you can play like a not-quite-completely-disciplined teenager and still be one of the ten best in the world. It's gotta beat High School.

She's ready to roll. But we aren't going to see the best of Justine Henin in 2002. She won't be finished growing up in only a year. Barring injury, she's virtually guaranteed to be even better in 2003 and 2004. I don't think that GS title is coming this year, but it's coming. The talent's all here.

QueenV
Jan 5th, 2002, 11:52 PM
I agree. I think Justine will only get better, and she is one of the few players to see Venus in action, but I don't think that will help her the next time they play. Look at all the players who have had a second chance at Venus throughout 2001. Jennifer losing 8 match points to Venus at the Ericsson had two chances after that to prove who was better. Venus beat her in straights both times Justine had a chance after Wimbledon to break the tie, and had the satisfaction of knowing that she took Venus to 3, but still lossed. Also if you notice both Jennifer and Justine made the comment that playing Venus takes so much out of you. She forces you to work hard and wears you down that usually by the end of the match your the one running thin, and she's still got her stamina and mental stability ready to close out the match.

Also don't forget that while Justine may have had a chance to see Venus play, Venus has had the same advantage. Those mistakes she made will be fixed Just like Justine will work on hers. She gave Justine chances to get back in the match in the first and second set. Fortunately for her she was able to keep switching the momentum back her way. You better believe that she will be aware of that the next time they play. It will be interesting to watch. :)

sartrista7
Jan 5th, 2002, 11:52 PM
Nice post Volcana.

Even more impressively, two of the players Justine swept past (bar that first set) were Daniela Hantuchova and Daja Bedanova. Both are extremely dangerous and continually improving youngsters; anyone who's seen Hantuchova's serve knows what I'm talking about. These weren't nobodies that Justine beat.

Zamboni
Jan 5th, 2002, 11:57 PM
Good post.
I agree.
It's what you see in tennis these days. There's a small group who beat each other (Venus, Serena, Lindsay, Jennifer, Martina), then there's a group who lose 8 out of 10 (ok, might be not true, but you know what I mean) matches to this group, but beat the other players. That's Justine, Kim, Monica etc.
It's going to be an interesting year :)

joao
Jan 6th, 2002, 01:50 AM
OK I agree with your statements about Justine's play. She's definitely up there with the best players right now! But as much as I try, I can't see justine in the top5 yet. She will hang around #6-7 all year but she's not ready yet to handle the sisters or davenport . She still has some problems with her fellow Clijsters and we all still are waiting to see a Henin-Hingis match to make any conclusions about those 2!

Anyway, about matching up with Venus...she definitely has a lot of work to do still! 3 losses in a row against the same player in less than a year says a lot to me! And did you notice that Henin used to stretch venus to a 3 setter? But now it looks like Venus has justine all figured out! The 1st set is always pretty tough where the 2 are kinda testing each other, but Henin falls pretty much quickly after that!!! By the way, did you notice that the last time Venus dropped a set was against Justine at the Pilot Pen? She's now on a 20 match-winning streak with 13 in a row without losing a set!

My point is I think Justine is hoping to be in the opposite draw of Venus!!!

Halardfan
Jan 6th, 2002, 03:23 AM
Hopefully Justine will be "kicking asssss and taking names" this year.

Whatever that means. :)

jel-x
Jan 6th, 2002, 09:28 AM
Justine did actually pass Kim to get to #5 for a little while last year, but I agree, she's gonna have to (I think she will) improve her game a bit more to get that high again.