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tennisIlove09
Aug 4th, 2003, 09:11 PM
Justine a Mental and Physical Rock
By Matthew Cronin in CARLSBAD
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Specially contribute to WTAFANS.COM

Should Kim Clijsters stop playing doubles? Maybe not, considering that with she and Ai Sugiyama’s final round victory at the $1 million Acura Classic over Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond, she became the world’s No. 1 ranked doubles player.

Maybe so, because after she fell 3-6 6-2 6-3 in the singles final to third-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters said that the combo of singles and doubles pooped her out on the last two sets.

"I ran out of gas in the second and third. I was a little tired," said Clijsters, who won the singles title last week at Stanford. "I wasn’t the freshest in my mind, wasn’t clear enough to go all the way. It’s a challenge to dig deeper, but you feel as if you are at the bottom and you can’t go any lower. In tennis, you have to try go over your limits, but it’s a sport where you have to stand behind the ball in the right position and hit it clean. Once your body isn’t there completely, those things will fade away a little and it makes a difference in these matches."

Clijsters now has to reach at least the final of Carson this week to become No. 1 in singles and even that might not be good enough if a lot of seeded players fall out of the draw.

But all the credit in this contest should go to Henin-Hardenne, who’s the fittest 5-foot-6 and under player the tour has ever seen. She’s cracking her first serve, running like a Tasmanian devil, murdering her forehand return and off the ground and flattening out her backhand like she’s crushing a hard line drive toward the gap.

"She’s become a lot better and stronger," said Clijsters. "Last year she was struggling with that and when you hit a strong ball she had a hard time keeping up with it. Now she goes for a lot of her shots. That’s where she’s made the biggest change in her tennis."

Henin entered the contest with a 6-8 record against Clijsters lifetime and had only beaten her once on hard courts in five attempts, but at the Acura, she was the far more authoritative player in the last two sets. She knew that Clijsters was pooped out in the third set and instead of just playing healthy defense she went into a high-wire act on offense, devastating Clijsters second serves.

"I was better defensively," Henin-Hardenne said. "She’s so strong and has a great defense but I had great defense, too. I’m so quick , more powerful and can play long rallies. I worked so hard and I’m really proud of that."

Henin has also made tremendous progress mentally. Last year, she might have melted in San Diego County, a environment she is not familiar with. She very much a European and hasn’t always felt at home in the pressure cooker of the U.S., but this week – even though her coach, Carlos Rodriguez was at home waiting for the birth of he and his wife’s child -- Henin stood strong and thought well. She was without Rodriguez for the first time in seven years but with husband Pierre-Yves and trainer Pat Etcheberry around, she felt somewhat at home at the posh La Costa Resort. Especially with herself.

"I’m more mature and comfortable," she said. "For seven years, Carlos said you have the possibilities to be No.1 someday and I didn’t believe him because I didn’t have confidence in myself. Now I have confidence in myself because he told me every day I could win Grand Slams and be No. 1. He was right for the Grand Slams, now I’m hoping he’s right for No. 1."

Third-ranked Henin-Hardenne certainly has a No. 1 attitude. If someone calls her out, like Clijsters did on Sunday when she suggested after the defeat that an injury timeout that Henin-Hardenne took between the first and second sets to treat a blister may have been more a mental timeout to regroup, Justine stands up for herself.

"I'm sort of getting used to it," said Clijsters. "She's done it in every match I've played against her. It's a matter of knowing if she's doing it for an injury or another reason. It didn't look like it was hurting because she was still running.

Henin responded.

"She’s disappointed that she lost today, that the only reason she’s saying this. I don’t know why all the players are talking about the incidents in my matches because I think I’m a fair player. She said it because she lost the match. I totally understand it. Today I just had to change the tape because the blister was burning. It had nothing to do with the mental part of the match."

Henin-Hardenne rightly noted that she’s in the other elite player’s heads. There’s no doubt that she’s gotten to Clijsters and the injured Serena knows she will stand toe to toe with her. She’s never had much success against Venus, but should they play at the U.S. Open, expect her to pound her chest.

"I think all these players don’t like that I’m not so strong and tall and am not the same looking players as them," Henin said. "They don’t like to see me running all over the court and having power, too. Mentally, it’s hard for them to compete against me

rottweily
Aug 4th, 2003, 09:26 PM
So correct!

Not only is she a Mental and Physical rock, she's the most talented, has the best technique, works the most to perfect every aspect of her game and to perfect her body, ...

Nobody can deny she always deserves to win ;-)

MartinaI
Aug 4th, 2003, 09:28 PM
nice article, thanx!

Miss Thang
Aug 4th, 2003, 10:38 PM
Go head Miss Justine! Girlfriend's confidence is up in the sky at the moment and she gotten into Miss Kim's head now. I wanna see her play Queen Vee again. Hope it happens soon. :cool:

CC
Aug 4th, 2003, 10:42 PM
I liked the talented-but-fragile Justine better.

greg˛
Aug 4th, 2003, 10:48 PM
marvellous article. To complete it. The mental part began in the Aussie Open during the Davenport-match and was completed with the Dubai-title and the two victories over Serena (Charleston, RG) and KIm (Berlin and RG)

shap_half
Aug 4th, 2003, 10:51 PM
I liked the talented-but-fragile Justine better.

so she can lose all the time?

i think this is just what she needs. in order to be a champion you need the attitude that you are capable of hanging with everyone else and that you can beat everyone else. everyone has aspirations: i do, you do, and so does she. if she doesn't believe she can do it then she won't be able to do it. and if she truly believes it then why shouldn't she be able to say it?

greg˛
Aug 4th, 2003, 10:52 PM
so she can lose all the time?

i think this is just what she needs. in order to be a champion you need the attitude that you are capable of hanging with everyone else and that you can beat everyone else. everyone has aspirations: i do, you do, and so does she. if she doesn't believe she can do it then she won't be able to do it. and if she truly believes it then why shouldn't she be able to say it?
She 's still talented but the marvellous backhand doesn't stand out anymore because her serve and forehand improved a lot

TylerDurden
Aug 5th, 2003, 12:26 AM
Justine is by far the most mentally tough player in the game right now, moreso than the Williams sisters. She really plays excellent when she is cornered, as her three set record this year shows. Actually, all her losses but one (Demetieva at AI) were in straight sets, so her three-set record must be the best on the tour this year. Clijsters, on the other hand...

CC
Aug 5th, 2003, 02:32 AM
so she can lose all the time?

i think this is just what she needs. in order to be a champion you need the attitude that you are capable of hanging with everyone else and that you can beat everyone else. everyone has aspirations: i do, you do, and so does she. if she doesn't believe she can do it then she won't be able to do it. and if she truly believes it then why shouldn't she be able to say it?

Sure, she's winning more with this new attitude, but she also seems meaner --- and willing to go to greater lengths to ensure that she makes it to the top.

Fingon
Aug 5th, 2003, 02:49 AM
Sure, she's winning more with this new attitude, but she also seems meaner --- and willing to go to greater lengths to ensure that she makes it to the top.


I am very fine with it, I follow a tennis player, I don't follow the psychological developments of someone I don't know, I've never talked to (except something she said to me in French!), I couldn't care less how she is in her perfonal life or what she is as a person (which I wouldn't judge by some quotes giving to the press anyway), I got interested in her because of her tennis and her tennis is what still keeps me interested in her, the rest isn't important to me

CC
Aug 5th, 2003, 02:58 AM
It's the whole package for me, including perceived personality.

Annarocks
Aug 5th, 2003, 03:01 AM
CC...to answer your post.....my coach has always told me that there is no limits to what you can do to achieve what you want.

Nothing....or anything can stop you...I say screw sportsmanship or being nice...I don't remember anyone ever being remembered for being nice or a sportsman, but for their Grand Slams titles and their weeks at #1!

Fingon
Aug 5th, 2003, 03:08 AM
It's the whole package for me, including perceived personality.

fair enough, not for me

Rtael
Aug 5th, 2003, 03:55 AM
Go head Miss Justine! Girlfriend's confidence is up in the sky at the moment and she gotten into Miss Kim's head now. I wanna see her play Queen Vee again. Hope it happens soon. :cool:


I wanna see that too :) I think Justine would probably lose (if it's on hardcourt) but I stil wanna see it anyway! (preferably in the USO Final)

skanky~skanketta
Aug 5th, 2003, 04:04 AM
its amazing how much she's imporved mentally. i want to see how she fares against venus. i mean, she said that kim was her stumbling block, but i think venus is her biggest block.

Dawn Marie
Aug 5th, 2003, 05:23 AM
Her attitude makes for exciting matches to come. Now I am even more anxious to see how she plays against Kim, Serena and Venus again.


Justine has stated some stupid comments but you have to admit she has the right attitude if she ever wants to become a REAL #1 player.

I'd rather hear this from a player than stating.." you might as well shoot for #3" Like Jelena did.

minus her dumb remarks in the past If Venus or Serena stated this BEFORE they won slams and became #1 I would like it.

I say be confident and cocky.. it's a dog eat dog WTA tour. Go out and earn that #1.

Go Venus Williams at the US Open beat the confident Justine.:)

TylerDurden
Aug 5th, 2003, 05:29 AM
Wow, I agree with the trash of the universe. ^

skanky~skanketta
Aug 5th, 2003, 08:13 AM
well, confidence is what got serena 6 grand slam titles and the top spot. hopefully it works for justine.

per4ever
Aug 5th, 2003, 09:09 AM
Justine's reactions made me change my ideas about the williams sisters.

I always thought Serena was arrogant because of her statements. I guess Justine also makes such statements, and if you're not a fan then it sounds like arrogancy.

Like Dawn said, I think you need such a strong character to be the number 1 player.