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Discussion Starter #1
Like everyone here, I have been really depressed especially at this time of the year. I can't watch any matches because the sound of tennis ball hitting the court just makes my crystal ball :bigcry::bigcry::bigcry:

So I think I'll start a new thread where fans can share their favourate old articles/pictures and post new ones to keep everyone up-to-date on what is happening to Justine as well as to themselves. I hope we can keep this thread going forever and, most likely, we'll need our Belgium fans to provide the latest news.

To start off, here is one of the first article that I have read about Justine as well as one of my favorate. After this, I kept my eyes open for the first opportunity to see her play. And that was the SF in Wimbledon against Capriati. It was love at first sight and the rest is history.

:worship::worship::worship:


Eurocard Ladies German Open - Semi Final:
Return of finesse: Justine Henin
by Christopher Bowers

May 14, 2001 -- Old-school tennis fans might wonder how exciting the women's pro game might be if the current stars' games were as diverse and distinct as the players' personas. All but the most knowledgeable students of technique might be led to believe the top players appear to play the same game: They all seem to hit from the baseline, most with two-handed backhands. The status quo lends itself to a perceived absence of finesse on the Sanex WTA Tour.

And that's why Justine Henin seems a breath of fresh air. The 18-year-old Belgian, who beat -- no, thrashed -- Venus Williams in Berlin -- is breaking onto the scene just in time to offer a rush of variety to the pro game.

All of Henin's matches in Berlin were a joy to watch, and the disappointment around the Rot-Weiss Club -- after she had retired from her semifinal loss to Jennifer Capriati with a twisted ankle -- was palpable. It was as if the audience had been robbed of the last act of a dramatic play unfolding and they would go home without knowing whether the butler really did do it.

Capriati was unusually eloquent: 'We'll never know who would have won the match.'

What makes Henin special is a mixture of enthusiasm and variety. Her dark brown eyes dominate a very studious face framed by streakily dyed blond hair, and she is much quicker to show a sense of politeness than humor. She exudes enthusiasm on the court. She winds up her big forehand with a flourish. Her sliced backhand is a model of fluency à la Evonne Goolagong or Jana Novotna, and when she plays her single-handed topspin backhand it is like a swordsman flashing a shining blade in combat. Never mind that she often loses her balance on that shot, threatening to fall backwards; it's a technical flaw that will need ironing out, but somehow it adds to the panache.

'I'm not a strong player,' she says less out of modesty than an assured assessment of her own strengths and weaknesses. 'I don't like to be on my baseline to do a lot of rallies, I like to go to the net, to be aggressive, to play my game. I enjoy tennis like that.'

She is also one of the smallest players on the circuit, at 1.66 meters or 5'5'. When she beat Venus Williams several journalists noted that she was giving away eight inches in height to the world No 2. But what she lacks in height Henin makes up in a mixture of great court awareness and speed. But, this is where her main problem arises.

Though recognized as an immense talent since she won her first tournament two years ago at age 16, she has suffered from a number of injuries. It seems that Henin can't go more than four weeks without some physical setback. Last year it was an arm injury that forced her to miss much of the clay-court season, then a foot injury that caused her withdrawal from two autumn events, plus an inflammation of the toe joints.

She knew she had to do something to combat these setbacks. 'I did a lot work,' she explains, 'A lot of running, a lot of fitness, a lot of power, a lot of everything because I had to. I had to be more consistent, and physically to work very much. Now my injuries are in the past and I'm fit to play each tournament without any problems.'

The reward for that improved fitness came right at the start of the year when she won back-to-back titles in Australia (Gold Coast and Canberra). While they were moderately minor tournaments, she came within six points of beating Monica Seles in the fourth round of the Australian Open, having led 4-2 in the second and third sets.

Yet the idea that her injuries were in the past wasn't quite borne out. A fatigue-related illness caused her to miss the European tournaments in February. She bounced back in April, and last week announced her presence with her emphatic 6-1, 6-4 win over Williams, which could have been 6-1, 6-3 given that she missed two match points at 5-3.

Again the fitness problem clicked in. Having fought back to take the second set off Capriati after the American had played near faultless tennis in the first, she turned her ankle at 1-2 40-30 in the final set, and that was it. Her face was a picture of disappointment as she limped back to Belgium and pulled out of this week's tournament in Rome.

Of course she is not the first player to have turned her ankle on a tennis court -- a 16-year-old Boris Becker was stretchered off Court 1 at Wimbledon in 1984 after turning his ankle, and he didn't do too badly after that. But with all her injuries, another setback could do damage to Henin's belief in her body and might threaten one of the most exciting talents to break onto the Sanex WTA Tour. She needs to make sure it doesn't become a mental thing.

If she can continue her good year and break into the Top 10, she won't be the only person there with an all-court game and a one-handed top-spin backhand. Amelie Mauresmo is in terrific form thanks to having a few more options than many top-tenners, and Conchita Martinez makes great use of her single-handed backhand.

But neither has quite the on-court awareness of Henin. On countless occasions against Williams and Capriati she put together a combination of punches that made use of every square centimeter of the court -- the big forehand and flashing backhand getting her opponent out of position, and then an exquisite killer drop shot. It was connoisseur's tennis, and it should be a terrific boon to the women's game.
 

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When she plays her single-handed topspin backhand it is like a swordsman flashing a shining blade in combat. Never mind that she often loses her balance on that shot, threatening to fall backwards; it's a technical flaw that will need ironing out, but somehow it adds to the panache.
This bit made me giggle :lol:
 

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This bit made me giggle :lol:
Yeah, I hope she manages to iron it out as she heads into the ripe old age of 19. Somehow I think she will. I will go out on a limb and say that almost 10 years from then she would be known to have the most beautiful backhand and all court game in the history of tennis. I dare anyone to counter that prediction. :devil:

Thanks for bringing back the great memories. This should be a great thread.
 

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She has got to come back, even if it is just as a part time player! Next year with no ranking points to defend, nothing to prove, she could have a more relaxed and successful second carrer. I can dream, can^t I?
 

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great article, thanks for posting.
 

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thx! it was a nice read :)
 

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Happy birthday Justine:aparty::bdaycake::banana::bounce::kiss:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At least one article that paid proper respect to a retired champion.

:worship::worship::worship:


Weakened women's draw left struggling to find a worthy champion

Svetlana Kuznetsova, the one player who might, on past form, be termed a deserved winner in Paris, remains unconvincing on clay

Jon Henderson guardian.co.uk,
Saturday May 31 2008
Article history

It might be overstating it to say that an undeserving case will win the women's title at this year's French Open - but not by much. The sudden retirement of Justine Henin of Belgium just before the event removed the one outstanding clay-court player from the championship and meant only one former winner, Serena Williams, went into the draw.

Williams won the championship in 2002, when she was leaner and fitter, and demonstrated her shortcomings on the surface on Friday when she lost haplessly in the third round to Katarina Srebotnik, a stolid rather than stellar Slovenian who has spent years on the tour achieving very little in singles.

Henin's immediate withdrawal from the tour – "I'm growing up and I need different things" - was one more blow to the women's game. It followed the retirement of her compatriot Kim Clijsters, another accomplished clay-courter who decided matrimony and motherhood were more her thing, and the sudden departure of Martina Hingis, twice a runner-up at the French and three times a semi-finalist, after she tested positive for cocaine. Amélie Mauresmo, who won two grand slams in 2006, might have been a challenger of genuine quality this time but she was hampered by injury and departed meekly, beaten in the second round by Carla Suarez Navarro, a teenage qualifier from Spain.

The one player who remains who might, on past form, be termed a worthy winner if she goes all the way to the title is the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova. She, at least, is the one whom Henin said she would like to see take over her crown. But Kuznetsova has never been entirely convincing on clay and was soundly beaten by Henin when she made it to the 2006 French final. Hard courts are where this sturdily built athlete - her father is a renowned cycling coach - has established her reputation, particularly those at Flushing Meadows where she won the US title in 2004 and reached the final again last year.

Kuznetsova's progress to the last 16 in Paris today was emphatic but not as impressive as the score - 6-2, 6-1 against fellow Russian Nadia Petrova - suggests. A poor match in front of a sparse crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier contained 38 unforced errors, Petrova winning this particular contest by 22 mistakes to 16.

Kuznetsova is pretty good at coming out on top in matches she should win but is not so dependable in matches she could win if she really dug deep. So far this year she has reached three finals and lost them all, which is not a good record for someone of her pedigree.

The depleted quality of this year's field may be what Kuznetsova needs to break through to win the highest honour in the clay-court game, although she should not take her fourth-round opponent for granted. Victoria Azarenka, an 18-year-old from Belarus, has made strikingly good progress through the draw thus far, confirming the sort of clay-court form that has carried her into the world's top 20. She has dropped no more than three games in a set in her first three victories, sweeping through 6-1, 6-1 today against the experienced Italian Francesca Schiavone. "Sveta is a great player and it's always going to be tough to play against her," Azarenka said of her match against Kuznetsova. "But I feel pretty confident now and I think I can do a good job."

By her own admission, Maria Sharapova, who inherited the position of top seed when Henin retired, would not qualify as an outstanding champion if she were to win the title. She has described herself as being "like a cow on ice" when she plays on the shifting dirt of Roland Garros and at times during the first 80 minutes of her third-round match today against the Italian Karin Knapp, did not look even as elegant as this. She was much steadier in the second set as she went through 7-6 (7-4), 6-0.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Is the OS offline now??? I couldn't access it for two days now.

:bigcry::bigcry::bigcry:
 

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Discussion Starter #13

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I do feel sincerely that there isn't a 'worthy champion' on the stuff. It certainly seems that no player has been able to do consistent clay-court, beautiful tennis at FO 2008
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The following is an article I think we can all relate to.

:tears::tears::tears:


Ivanovic boring but effective in winning French Open - Charles Bricker
Sports Columnist
12:03 PM EDT, June 7, 2008
PARIS

She's good. She's very good. She is -- what more evidence is required? -- a Grand Slam champion at age 20.

But the panache is in the photo-friendly face and bronzed skin, not in her game.

So here's to Ana Ivanovic, whose victory over Dinara Safina produced her major No. 1 to go with the No. 1 ranking she will officially embrace on Monday morning.

But if it's artistry and flash you want with your tennis, she's not going to provide it. She's a faster and earlier blooming version of Lindsay Davenport, who won her first Slam at the U.S. Open at 22.

Ivanovic has carefully trained technique off both the forehand and backhand side and potentially the best serve in women's tennis. As did Davenport.

She has excellent court composure and understands the nuances of constructing points. So did Davenport.

But, like Davenport, she will not deliver that special flair and quick-twitch foot movement the world got from that 5-foot-5 over-achiever Justine Henin, who retired and turned her No. 1 ranking over to the next French winner.

Or the riveting brute strength of Serena Williams. Or the ability of Venus Williams to leave you gasping as she turned defense into offense with one stretching shot from the corner. Or the sleek beauty of Steffi Graf running from Point A to Point B.

All those special qualities that cannot be taught.

Which is fine. Ivanovic can be deeply appreciated for what she is and she could remain at No. 1 for some time because (a) she has a powerful game that can excel on all surfaces and (b) there's still upside to her game. The ground stroking can be more consistent.

Eventually, however, she will be replaced by the next great athlete because strength alone is not enough to retain a crown in tennis. Henin has already proved that.

As finals go, this one was merely OK. There were two players on the Philippe Chatrier stadium with mirror-image games, swapping flat, powerfully-struck ground strokes with each waiting for an open court into which to fire a winner.

But it seemed as if 75 percent of the best shots were followed immediately by double faults or shanks.

The closest we got to sheer athletic brilliance came in the sixth game of the opening set, when Ivanovic made a great run to a wide ball and, from two feet outside her forehand double sideline, gently touched a short-angle crosscourt winner to save a crucial break point.

That was a delicate piece of work, though one sensed, watching it, that Henin would have gotten to the ball quick enough to mull over five options in her mind before making her play.

There's nothing to dislike about Ivanovic. She's fashionable and made every lensman happy by wearing a peach-colored bubble dress for all seven matches.

Although she doesn't, like Serena Williams, produce primal screams loud enough to be heard five courts away, she has her pump-up moments on court.

Several times during this match, she could be hear telling herself, "eide, eide" (eye-duh), which means, "let's go" in Serbian. And then she'll clench her left fist, never shaking it, or clench it, pull it into her chest and do a half-pirouette.

She's come a long way since she embarrassed herself, nervous and shaken in her first Grand Slam final a year ago in a one-hour and five-minute final here won by Henin 6-1, 6-2. But you knew she would be all right.

The great players learn from their big-match jitters and Ivanovic, from the opening point Saturday, was steely and resolved in this match. Her tennis wasn't consistent, but it was good enough, and give Safina some credit for disrupting her game.

OK, she's not the greatest athlete to be No. 1. But women's tennis needs Ivanovic now with Henin's retirement and the constant injuries to the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova.

They say winning that first Grand Slam changes the way you think about yourself as a player. With Wimbledon beginning in two weeks, Ivanovic has an opportunity to put a hammer lock on that No. 1 spot and do something not just for herself but for women's tennis as well.

Charles Bricker can be reached at [email protected]
 

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In other words, we miss Justine lots:(
Sure do! However, I do think Ana is a better athlete than the writer gives her credit for. Also, I think her more compact power game is likely to cause her fewer injuries than Maria and the Williams sisters have endured lately. Time will tell!
 

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I thought he summed up why we miss Justine on clay pretty well. It was a boring match, not the gifted artistry that Justine brought. Power and finesse, will we ever see that again. I would like to think yes, but I think I might be too old to appreciate it when it rolls around again. This was a once in several decades player, our Justine. That is what hurts the most. To know that I saw it, got used to it, witnessed something special - and then it ended all too soon.
 
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