Henin in thriller langs Davenport
MELBOURNE - In een heroïsche tenniswedstrijd heeft de Belgische Justine Henin-Hardenne zich zondag gekwalificeerd voor de kwartfinale van de Australian Open. Zij versloeg de Amerikaanse oud-kampioene Lindsay Davenport in drie sets: 7-5 5-7 9-7. In de kwartfinale ontmoet de 20-jarige Henin de ongeplaatste Spaanse Viginia Ruano Pascual.
Justine Henin-Hardenne. (Foto: REUTERS)
In vijf eerdere ontmoetingen wist Henin nooit van de zes jaar oudere Davenport te winnen. In Melbourne lukte het eindelijk in een partij die 3 uur 13 minuten duurde, ongewoon lang voor vrouwentennis.
Beide spelers kregen de kans op een vroegere beslissing. Henin kon een voorsprong van 7-5 5-1 niet naar een succes voeren. Davenport was er bij 5-7 7-5 4-1 in de derde set niet toe in staat. Bij 7-7 leek de Amerikaanse toch gaan winnen toen de Waalse speelster ter aarde stortte na een opslag. Zij had kramp in het linker bovenbeen. Een fysiotherapeute van de organisatie lapte haar weer op. Henin won haar opslagbeurt en benutte in de 16e game van de derde set het derde matchpoint.
Sunday, 19 January, 2003, 05:16 GMT
Henin triumphs in thriller
Henin-Hardenne was hit by cramp in the third set
Fifth seed Justine Henin-Hardenne overcame both cramp and her ninth-seeded opponent, Lindsay Davenport, to clinch a place in the last eight at the Australian Open.
At 7-7 in the third set Henin-Hardenne's left thigh cramped up, but she was able to continue after an injury time-out and finally won the decider 9-7.
The match had see-sawed throughout, with first Henin-Hardenne and then Davenport looking certain to win.
All the action as it happened
After taking the first set 7-5, Henin-Hardenne looked on course for victory in the second set, but stumbled with the finish line in sight and lost it 7-5.
That set up the titanic third set, and after more than three hours of pulsating tennis, Henin-Hardenne claimed her first-ever victory against former Australian Open champion Davenport.
"I thought I was going to die but I played it with my heart and just went for it," said Henin-Hardenne, who was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2001.
"I was cramping and I thought the match was over for me.
"The match was really tough, I just wanted to end it. I wanted to give everything I could."
Both players were slow to find their best form, and after they each won their opening serves, there was a flurry of breaks throughout the rest of the first set.
Henin-Hardenne finally held her serve to go 5-4 up and although Davenport immediately responded in kind, Henin-Hardenne broke the American at 6-5 to take a one-set lead.
The Belgian started much the quicker in the second set and she was just one point from taking a 5-1 lead.
However, Davenport suddenly rediscovered her composure and won six of the next seven games to level the match at one-set all.
Now it was the American who had the momentum and when she took a 4-1 lead in the final set it looked as though she was in complete control.
However, Henin-Hardenne managed to fight back from a double break down and with the players locked together at 6-6 it was anyone's match.
When Henin-Hardenne crumpled to the floor while serving at 7-7 it looked as though Davenport was strong favourite to win.
But, after receiving treatment, Henin-Hardenne continued and she held her serve and nerve before breaking Davenport to claim a famous victory.