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Fabunny
Jul 8th, 2006, 03:05 AM
Wimbledon women's final pick
Bad blood follow-up to the ‘tummy ache' final
By Matthew Cronin, TennisReporters. net


1-AMELIE MAURESMO V.
3-JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE
Exactly when will Justine play a big tournament again when someone she's facing isn't glaring her way? It may never happen again. Three of her great rivals – Mauresmo, Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams, all have fought with her in the past and now going into this contest, we have Mauresmo looking to right a wrong perception that she only won the Australian Open final because Henin-Hardenne retired with a stomach ailment.
No she didn't. Even though I believe that JH-H is a more accomplished all round player, Mauresmo was playing better that day and even if JH-H was fully healthy, the Frenchwoman would have likely found a way around her and won her first Slam. No one will ever truly know that, but what we do know is that Maria Sharapova beat up JH-H just enough in the semis to make her vulnerable during the final. Mauresmo was in better shape, coming off a quick win over the injured Kim Clijsters. Based on her superior conditioning alone you would have had to give Mauresmo the edge in the third set of that contest had it happened.

But none of that really matters here because both women are in full health going into the final. The question is: Will Mauresmo shrink during the occasion, or will she let it fly, just like she did against Sharapova in the third set?

I believe that she will, but it won't be good enough. Henin-Hardenne has a better serve, a more effective slice and a more penetrating forehand on grass. I'll give Mauresmo the edge in the volleying and approach shot departments, but she's going to have to serve incredibly well and return serve like she never has before to win this match. The odds are stacked against her. It's one thing to trick the limited Sharapova into making mistakes and it's another with Justine, who is quicker than the Russian and won't mind being drawn into net. Plus, Henin-Hardenne passes more effectively on the run.

Both women have reason to be super-motivated to win this contest: Henin-Hardenne – to put to rest the ugly perception that she quit for no good reason during the AO final; and Mauresmo – to prove that she's a deserving Slam champ. I look at both sides in a positive way, giving JH-H the benefit of the doubt as to why she retired Down Under and giving Mauresmo props for winning the title when every other elite player wilted.

But at the Big W, it's Henin-Hardenne's time to shine and she'll win her sixth Slam in three sets on Saturday. Then she'll be hot on Serena's tail for the accolade: "best player of her generation."
© TennisReporters. net 2006

tennisbear7
Jul 8th, 2006, 04:55 AM
Cronin is a trashtalker, even when he's trying not to be.