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If anyone is following Montreal, there's something about Shapovalov ('s backhand) that reminds me a bit about Justine. There's a certain unteachable flair about it. Coming over the one handed backhand is very often about being in the right place at the right time and hitting with the right timing.

But there's something purely intuitive that these two do which is non-standard when the ball is out of their strike zone. They contort their body, fall back, change their swingpath - all very difficult to do with a one-hander. Federer does it with his wristy blocks but he doesn't take a full swing at it in such circumstances.

Aside from that, they are both lean/"scrawny" speedsters with a flamboyant game.
 

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Hi, how're all the die hard Justine fans!

Justine's backhand is a symphony. So many different parts of her body have to work together in total harmony and the timing has to be perfect. Even Justine cannot hit it all the time. I still enjoy watching her old matches more than those of all the pretenders.

Shapovalov has good potential but not yet the total fluidity of a Justine shot. Not even the GOAT.


:worship::worship::worship:
 

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"Justine Henin: what happened next to the last queen of clay? Exclusive interview ahead of French Open"
by Charlie Eccleshare
The Telegraph
27 MAY 2019 • 10:40AM
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2019/05/27/justine-henin-happened-next-last-queen-clay-exclusive-interview/ (subscription)


Is there a more unpredictable event in the sporting calendar than the women's French Open?

Ten different winners in the last 12 years, no back-to-back champion since 2007, a favourite this year with odds of 4/1. It makes predicting the Grand National winner look like a doddle, and is stark contrast to the absolute rule of Rafael Nadal in the men's event over the last decade and a half.

Identifying the moment at which the French Open went from dynasty to democracy is simple: May 14 2008, when the world No 1 Justine Henin announced her shock retirement on the eve of that year’s Roland Garros, aged just 25 and citing mental and physical exhaustion - more on that later.

For the previous few years, Henin had been almost as dominant on the clay as Nadal. She won four out of five French Opens between 2003 and 2007, and all three in the years before her retirement - the second two without dropping a set.

At the time of her retirement she was on a run of 35 straight sets won at Roland Garros - a sequence she would extend to 40 when she briefly returned in 2010. During her 2007 triumph, Martina Navratilova was so impressed that she said: "It's sort of like we've got 'the female Federer', or maybe the guys have 'the male Justine Henin'". Her luxurious single-handed backhand meanwhile was described by John McEnroe as the best in the history of the sport.

In the Open Era, only Chris Evert and Steffi Graf have won more French Open titles than Henin, whose speed around the court and devastating groundstrokes were perfectly suited to the Parisian dirt.

She is well placed then to explain why there has been no Queen of clay since her abdication. "There are not many players who really use the surface nowadays," she tells The Telegraph, speaking from the Justine Henin Academy in Limelette, just south of Brussels.

"The clay season is short, and hard courts have got slower in the last few years so the surfaces came closer in speed. As a result a lot of the girls play the same way on every surface. I was really trying to use the clay - sliding a lot, using the different trajectories, variations and everything. [Current French Open champion Simona] Halep does it very well, but we don’t see many players with that kind of game now."

The lack of clay expertise is largely a consequence of how players are being coached, according to Henin. At her own academy, which hosts players of all abilities - from beginners to teenagers aiming to turn pro - Henin places huge importance on learning to play on clay from an early age: "On clay you have to use your hands in different ways, and it requires you to do different things. On hard it’s a more simple game, you hit the ball and you have less time."

Henin has been coaching youngsters since retiring for good in 2011 - after a 12-month comeback was ended by an elbow injury. So long has she been out of the game that it's easy to forget that Henin is only 36, a year younger than Roger Federer and Serena Williams, both of whom continue to amass grand-slam titles. Williams in fact was an opponent Henin relished playing and one she beat in six of their 14 meetings, including three in a row at grand slams.

Helped in part by her successes against Williams, Henin ended her career with a hugely impressive seven major titles - as well as the Fed Cup and an Olympic Gold - but one wonders how many more she would have won were it not for her enforced retirement. As it was, Henin reached a point of mental and physical exhaustion. At just 5ft 5in tall and slight of build, Henin was tiny compared to most of her competitors, and compensated by getting as fit as possible through a brutal fitness regime. This, coupled with off-court difficulties like the break-up of her first marriage in 2007, left her so drained that she became the first player to quit while world No 1.

"The fact I was not so tall and had to work so hard physically meant I couldn’t have a long career," she says. "And I did things at 300 per cent so I really lived in my bubble away from a lot of things, and it’s hard to live like that for 20 years. A combination of mental and physical issues forced me to quit. But I have no regrets. I know myself. It would have been hard for me to be not at the top anymore. Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s the way I am."

Clearly Henin still has a huge amount to offer tennis, and she has been approached by a number of players about full-time coaching. Thus far though, she has limited herself to consultancy roles, for players like top-10 regular Elina Svitolina and Ukrainian rising star Dayana Yastremska, both of whom have trained at her academy.

Henin's reluctance to become the latest 'supercoach' stems from her devotion to her two young children - Lalie, 6 and Victor, 2. She lives 10 minutes from the academy and juggles working there with looking after her kids, supported by her husband Benoit Bertuzzo, a Belgian cameraman.

Henin believes that her unwillingness to be separated from her children at a young age is shared by a number of mothers, and explains why there are so many more male than female coaches. "It’s harder for a woman to travel after they have kids," she says. "It’s moving in the right direction, but that’s the main reason."

Once her children are a bit older, Henin says she could be tempted, which would surely lead to a stampede of offers. For now though the tennis world will have to content themselves with enjoying Henin's commentary - a role she will take up for French television at Roland Garros over the next couple of weeks.

When in Paris, Henin will also enjoy the chance to catch up with former rivals like fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters. With the days of intense competition behind them, the pair will meet for a coffee and a catch-up, while laughing at pictures of each other's children.

There will be less cordial relations with Amelie Mauresmo - Andy Murray's former coach now working with the Frenchman Lucas Pouille. The pair have not spoken since Henin retired from the Australian Open final mid-match in 2006, which Mauresmo felt tarnished her long-awaited first major.

"I’m always open to talk about it, but we both moved on," Henin says of the froideur. "I only want to look forward."

Just don't ask her to look forward to Saturday June 8 and forecast which woman will be holding aloft the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. After ruminating on the various candidates, she shrugs her shoulders and says: "It will be very open."

As it has been since the moment Henin hung up her racket.

***
 

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Hello everybody!!
It's : VEJH ( I don't know why I had to change my name, I think my acct was hijacked).
How is everybody doing?

Thanks for that article Cynicole!

Was doing some serious reminiscing on Ju.

"It would have been hard for me to be not at the top anymore. Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s the way I am."

Yep, she was a tennis perfectionist, so much so it was so hard even to enjoy an exhibition. She wouldn't even think of winning a GS until she felt she had gone through the building blocks of warm up tournaments. lol
 
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