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The international press about Justine's victory in New York

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Henin-Hardenne Shows Heart, Takes Title
by Lisa Zimmerman
Saturday, September 6, 2003

In an amazing show of tenacity and fortitude, No. 2 women's seed Justine Henin-Hardenne hit the court tonight for her women's singles finals match. After what will undoubtedly be considered a historic battle last night against Jennifer Capriati, in which she had to contend with not just her opponent, but leg cramps as well, Henin-Hardenne showed what she is made of, breaking No. 1 Kim Clijsters in the very first game.

What made the feat even more amazing was that at one point in mid-afternoon, it was uncertain whether or not Henin-Hardenne would actually be able to compete in the match because of the lasting effects of last night's cramps.

But, she was there and in it all the way. The crowd was mesmerized as the Belgians stayed with each other, step for step in the first set, with Henin-Hardenne pulling it out at 7-5.

Then in the second set, it was simply all Henin-Hardenne. With Clijsters, shockingly, able to take just one game from her compatriot, Henin-Hardenne captured her first US Open title - and the hearts of tennis fans everywhere - with a final score of 7-5, 6-1.

Gutsy Henin-Hardenne Soars to US Open Crown
by Matthew Cronin
Saturday, September 6, 2003

In one of the amazing displays of rapid-fire, all-court tennis in women's tennis history, Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne knocked out fellow countrywoman and No. 1 Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-1 and won her first US Open title.

Playing extraordinarily well despite the fact that she was forced to play more than three hours in downing Jennifer Capriati in the semifinal just 20 hours before the finals, Henin-Hardenne chopped down the bigger Clijsters by simply out-hitting her from the baseline, playing all pro defense and much more ambitiously on the big points.

"I'm so happy right now, it's just amazing," said Henin-Hardenne, who also won the French Open in June. "To have won two Grand Slams in a year, I couldn't believe I could do it but I feel much stronger than I have in the past. It's a great confirmation for me after the French . I had a great reaction because you never know when you win a Grand Slam how you going to feel. You don't know if your motivation is gonna be alright after a big win. It's been an unbelievable few months."

Even though she only slept a few hours while she stayed awake pondering the Capriati victory, the 21-year-old Henin-Hardenne still believed in her chances.

"When you have to play a Grand Slam final, you cannot be tired," Henin-Hardenne said. "You have to give your best."

Henin-Hardenne was quicker, stronger and more consistent from the forehand side and her usual perfect self when she mixed up topspin, flat and slice backhands. For her part, Clijsters never could crank up her serve or find the rhythm on her forehand side.

Pumped up to win her first Open title and to show the rest of the tour that she's a true force on hard courts, Henin-Hardenne came out firing in the first set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead when she ripped a crosscourt forehand winner. But Clijsters began to find the range and depth on her shots and bullied her way to a 5-4 lead.

Clijsters held two set points on Henin-Hardenne's serve at 5-4, but Henin-Hardenne responded by cracking an ace and forcing Clijsters into a backhand error. Henin-Hardenne then broke Clijsters to 6-5 by crushing a backhand down the line winner and won the set when she forced Clijsters into a forehand error.

Henin-Hardenne, who hadn't lost a match since Wimbledon, played a nearly prefect set, dictating from inside the baseline and outstroking Clijsters to all angles of the court. Although she gives away 25 pounds to Clijsters, it was Henin-Hardenne who struck the heavyweight blows while Clijsters often seemed like a undersized middleweight as she was forced to do most of the retrieving.

"I'm strong enough to compete with these players," Henin-Hardenne said. "It's amazing how things have changed in a year. I'm not afraid of the power of the other player because I'm powerful and everybody knows it right now."

She broke Clijsters twice to go ahead 3-0 with an overhead and a running backhand crosscourt winner. After holding to 5-1 by burying a crosscourt forehand winner, Henin-Hardenne yelled out her trademark "Allez" and did three mini-jumps in front of her box. :D

The now two-time Grand Slam champion authoritatively ended the match by powering home an inside-out forehand swing volley.

"I'm free of being afraid of losing," Henin-Hardenne said, "I just go on and play and have no regrets about the match."

The No. 2 ranked Henin-Hardenne is still a little more than 300 points behind Clijsters in the race to the year end No.1, but given that's she won four titles this summer, had a perfect record on hardcourts in winning three titles, she's arguably the people's No. 1, especially considering that her countrywoman hasn't won a major and she has beaten Clijsters the last three times they've played.

"I believe that when I see that I'm No.1 ," Henin-Hardenne said. "But it's true; in the last few months I've been very consistent and played unbelievable. I finished the matches I had to finish. I'm very strong right now and I think the other players can see it, too."

Henin-Hardenne is Number One at Heart
by Greg Laub
Saturday, September 6, 2003

It was four weeks ago tomorrow that Kim Clijsters held up a four foot floral arrangement shaped as the number one, signifying her overtaking of Serena Williams as the top ranked woman in all of tennis, a position previously held by the American for 57 weeks in a row.

By defeating former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the Los Angeles final earlier that day for her 16th career title and tour-leading sixth title this season, she became just the 12th woman to hold the top spot since the inception of computer rankings on Nov. 3, 1975.

But in that all time, none of the previous eleven women ever made tennis fans feel the need to question the computer. Until now.

Since hoisting that giant bouquet, Clijsters has been criticized by many for being the only woman to ever hold the No. 1 spot without ever capturing a Grand Slam, and the computer rankings have been put under the microscope for it’s inability to separate quantity from quality.

Sure, she plays in more matches than most women, but she’s had her fair share of chances to exorcise those demons, and has always fallen short in the end. Tonight, with yet another chance to silence those critics, she lost again to familiar foe, and that familiar foe is slowly proving that some things go deeper than numbers.

When Justine Henin-Hardenne defeated Clijsters to win the 2003 US Open singles title tonight, she once again showed the world who the real champion is between the two Belgians, regardless that she is ranked No. 3 in the world.

She is the real champion, because she finds a way to win the big match. She knows what it takes. She has the heart of a rebel, and the guts of a warrior.

Tonight, as always, Henin-Hardenne was able put her obstacles behind her, still managing to dominate play from the very start of the match to the very end. While Clijsters was fighting her own mental demons, Henin-Hardenne was struggling with more severe physical problems sustained the night before, when her three-hour-plus match against Jennifer Capriati took so much out of her that she nearly was forced to bow out of tonight’s match due to fatigue before it even started.

But she dug deep, took to the court and battled, as she has done so many times before, and in the end reigned supreme.

The last time Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters met, in a final at San Diego last month, Clijsters accused Henin-Hardenne of poor sportsmanship for taking excessive injury timeouts. During a news conference, Henin-Hardenne called Clijsters' remarks "stupid" and added "I understand that sometimes it's hard to lose, but she has to accept that."

Tonight, Kim did not comment on Justine’s injuries. She instead took the respectful route, telling the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium and reporters afterward that Justine was simply the better player tonight. Clijsters lauded Justine’s efforts, and is seemingly realizing right before our very eyes that while she may be the one ranked No. 1, Justine is the one who has the extra something that every true champion needs to win the big one.

After all, this isn’t the first time Henin-Hardenne has squashed Clijsters’ title chances, and certainly not the first time she has won a big match over her adversary. Including tonight’s victory, she has now defeated Clijsters four out of the last five times they've met – all finals. Amongst those finals were two Grand Slams: the French Open, which Henin-Hardenne won handily, 6-0, 6-4, and tonight, which she won 7-5, 6-1.

In fact, the only final Clijsters has won in the history of this rivalry came in June at the Ordina Open in the Netherlands, when Henin-Hardenne was forced to retire in the second set after hurting her left hand while stumbling. Interestingly, the only other final these two have played before this year came at the same tournament back in 2001, which Henin-Hardenne won, making it a total of five out of six finals for Justine.

Naturally, Clijsters has been the lower seed in each of those tournaments.

And, while Henin-Hardenne proved to the world again tonight that she is the superior champion, when the rankings come out Monday morning, Clijsters will still be ranked No. 1 in the world.

But that’s just because you can’t measure heart with a computer. :hearts: :hearts: :hearts: :worship:
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Restless night:
Exhausted Henin-Hardenne plays on, claims second Grand Slam title

Posted: Saturday September 6, 2003 11:11PM; Updated: Sunday September 7, 2003 2:18AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Trying to get some precious sleep in the hours before her first U.S. Open final, Justine Henin-Hardenne kept tossing and turning.
She couldn't stop thinking about her semifinal victory, a three-hour battle of wills that left her physically and mentally drained.
And she couldn't stop worrying about how she would feel back out on court.

Would she fail to recover in time? Not a chance.

Showing remarkable resiliency, Henin-Hardenne produced all the right shots and beat fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-1 Saturday night to win the U.S. Open for her second major title of the year.

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to compete and fight 100 percent. It's hard when you have to play a Grand Slam final when you have only 20 hours to recover," Henin-Hardenne said.

"I've always had a lot of character. I always have been a big fighter."

She fought off two set points in the first set against the No. 1-ranked Clijsters, which must have felt like a minor nuisance compared to what Henin-Hardenne went through to beat Jennifer Capriati in three sets the night before. In that match, Henin-Hardenne was within two points of losing 10 times, trailed 5-3 in the second set and 5-2 in the third, and Capriati twice served for the match.

"Justine had an answer for a lot of my shots," said Clijsters, now 0-3 in Slam finals, including a loss to Henin-Hardenne at the French Open in June. "She was just too good, especially after playing that great match against Jennifer last night -- the best match I've seen all year." :worship:

Against Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne won nine of the last 10 games and broke serve six times, including in the last game, which ended with a clean volley winner. It helped that Clijsters was tentative all night, with 30 unforced errors in the first set alone and a total of 40, twice as many as Henin-Hardenne.

With a tour-high seven titles in 2003, Henin-Hardenne jumps to a career-high No. 2 in the rankings, ahead of injured Serena Williams.

Still, she isn't exactly a household name in the United States: A representative of the main tournament sponsor called her "Christine" while presenting the champion's trophy and $1 million check during the on-court postmatch ceremony.

For large stretches, the level of play Saturday night was less than stellar, with a slew of break points (16), double-faults (six) and poorly played groundstrokes.

If Henin-Hardenne, who's 21, wasn't in peak form, she had a pretty good excuse.
She left the National Tennis Center at 2:40 a.m. Saturday, two hours after finishing against Capriati. Henin-Hardenne needed intravenous fluids for dehydration that made her left leg cramp late in that match.

Late Saturday afternoon, she was on a practice court, trying to gauge whether she was fit enough to play.

"Last night, when I got off the court, I didn't know what to expect because I was feeling so bad. The doctors and trainers took care of me," Henin-Hardenne said.

"I was feeling tired, a lot of fatigue, and I didn't know if I was going to be able to compete and fight 100 percent. This morning, when I woke up, I knew I was going to play, but I needed more time to see how I felt."

Normally, she would have had more time to prepare for the final, but the women's semifinals were pushed back a day to Friday night because of the rain that disrupted the tournament schedule.

So she took her time between serves against Clijsters, bouncing the ball a few extra times to buy some seconds to rest. But she had plenty of adrenaline.

Henin-Hardenne pretty much sealed the title by breaking to 3-0 in the second set with a full-sprint backhand lob that curled over Clijsters like the tail of a Q. Henin-Hardenne kept jogging and raised a fist in the direction of the guest box, where husband Pierre-Yves, coach Carlos Rodriguez, and personal trainer Pat Etcheberry were sitting.

"I admit I was scared for her last night," Rodriguez said. "I didn't know whether she could come out and do it today."

It's Etcheberry whom the 5-foot-5 1/2, 125-pound Henin-Hardenne credits with building her strength and fitness, allowing her to compete with the best in the world.

After winning the French Open, she said his workouts often reduce her to tears.

"I'm not afraid anymore about the power of the other players, because I'm powerful, too," Henin-Hardenne said, "and I think that everybody knows it right now."

She and Clijsters are building quite a rivalry, which is rather impressive given that they grew up 15 miles apart in a nation of 10 million people. They have known each other since they were kids, although they couldn't communicate at the start: Henin-Hardenne spoke French, Clijsters spoke Flemish.

While Clijsters won seven of their first nine meetings on the WTA Tour, Henin-Hardenne is 4-1 since, including winning the final of a tournament at San Diego last month. After losing the first set then, Henin-Hardenne asked for treatment for a foot blister, then dropped only five games the rest of the way.

Clijsters had questioned whether the medical help was really necessary, and Henin-Hardenne said after the Capriati match that's why she didn't request a trainer even though she was cramping.

On Saturday night, Clijsters was more gracious.
"It's great that she can recover that quickly," she said. "That just shows how good of an athlete she is, and how much she's worked on her strength and endurance."

Henin-Hardenne jumped out to a 3-0 lead by winning 12 of the first 15 points, thanks to Clijsters' nine unforced errors in that span. But Clijsters eventually went ahead 5-4, then had the two set points. But she couldn't convert either, stymied in part by Henin-Hardenne's first clean winner off her backhand, which John McEnroe has called the prettiest shot in all of tennis.

That began a run of seven consecutive games for Henin-Hardenne, who used a great return to set up a backhand down the line to break to 6-5, then held to win the first set when Clijsters put a forehand in the net.

Clijsters never recovered.

Quick recovery just became Henin-Hardenne's trademark.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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that is the best quote about Justine these past 2 weeks, "because you can't measure heart with a computer.":worship:
The No. 2 ranked Henin-Hardenne is still a little more than 300 points behind Clijsters in the race to the year end No.1, but given that's she won four titles this summer, had a perfect record on hardcourts in winning three titles, she's arguably the people's No. 1, especially considering that her countrywoman hasn't won a major and she has beaten Clijsters the last three times they've played
Best quote is " She has the heart of a rebel and the guts of a warrior ".
Great articles! thanx!!

Henin-Hardenne claims U.S. Open

NEW YORK, (Reuters) -- Justine Henin-Hardenne crushed Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-1 to lift the U.S. Open title and cap one of the great recoveries in grand slam history.

Hours earlier she had lain exhausted at the Flushing Meadows infirmary with an IV drip in her arm after her three-hour, three-set semifinal win over Jennifer Capriati.

Henin-Hardenne returned to the court and produced a storming effort -- fighting

off two set points in the opening set and then producing some immaculate tennis to race away with the title in 81 minutes.

'It is such a great feeling. I amso happy right now....two grand slams in the same year. I can't believe it,' said Henin-Hardenne who also beat Clijsters in the final of the French Open in June.

"Justine was too good again," Clijsters said after her latest loss. "I was disappointed with my performance, but I played an opponent who was just the best today ... and the best of the whole tournament."

The 21-year-old second seed got the final off to the best possible start on Saturday, breaking a jittery Clijsters on the first two opportunities on way to a 3-0 lead.

Her punishing groundstrokes starting to find their range, Clijsters recovered from her shockingly slow start by breaking back at 3-1 as her rival double-faulted.

Held serve
Finally in a rhythm, Clijsters held serve for the first time in the match to go 3-2 but missed an opportunity to get back on level terms when she squandered two break points before allowing Henin-Hardenne to hold for 4-2.

But Clijsters would not waste her opportunities a second time, converting the first of two break points at 4-3 to put the set back on serve.

Now it was Clijsters in control, confidently holding serve with a lunging forehand winner that brought an ovation from the packed Arthur Ashe stadium and a fist-pump from the Belgian, reminiscent of boyfriend Lleyton Hewitt watching from the stands.

Henin-Hardenne again found herself in trouble down two break points and battling to hold serve and save the set at 5-4 but this time Clijsters would not convert leaving the score tied at 5-5.

Displaying the same grit that carried her past Capriati, Henin-Hardenne dug deep into her reserves to claim the decisive break to go up 6-5.

She then held serve, taking the set in 51 minutes when Clijsters ploughed a forehand into net for her 30th unforced error.

It was the first set dropped by Clijsters the entire tournament.

An unrelenting Henin-Hardenne started the second set the way she began the first with a pair of breaks on way to another 3-0 lead.

This time she would not offer Clijsters an opportunity to get back into the match, holding serve to go 4-0.

Clijsters would finally stop the skid by holding serve at 4-1 but the road back was too far, Henin-Hardenne finishing off her beleaguered compatriot with another break.
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Schedule makes this a survival of the fittest
By John McEnroe (Filed: 07/09/2003)

More so than ever the US Open has turned out to be a case of the survival of the fittest. If skill prevails over stamina in today's men's final it will be purely coincidental.

Three times in previous finals Andre Agassi believes he has suffered from scheduling which allowed minimal recovery time after the semis. The physical demands upon this year's finalists have been further exacerbated by weather which seems to have been imported directly from Wimbledon.

Forcing players to play three matches in three days or even worse cannot be conducive to high-quality tennis. But you cannot blame CBS television network, who pay dearly for the privilege of covering the event, if they push for a Super Saturday-Sunday climax.

It is up to the players or the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to take a stand on the matter and insist on a day's rest between the final two rounds, just as there is in the other three Slams.

The USTA place a priority on getting matches finished whereas, say, Wimbledon would be prepared to go an extra day rather than see the quality of their championship compromised. But then that's part of what makes the US Open what it is: a gruelling championship played on unforgiving hard courts which can beat you up.

Nevertheless, I think it would be worth losing the extra $2 million - or whatever it is that CBS pay to have the scheduling to their liking - for the sport to retain its integrity. I have been saying this for years, just as I have been calling for a retractable roof over the Arthur Ashe stadium, which would have considerably eased the backlog of matches at this year's championship caused by the rain.

When the Rod Laver Arena was built for the Australian Open in Melbourne it came with a roof and was put to use in its very first year, in 1988, when Mats Wilander beat Pat Cash in the final.

The Ashe stadium could have had a roof, albeit with a slightly reduced capacity, when it was built but the USTA opted for a larger stadium, which I think was a mistake. Worse still, the United States Tennis Centre does not even have covers for its courts, which are considered by some as unsightly, though nothing could be more unsightly than seeing dozens of volunteers mopping up the courts with towels and squeegees.

All things considered it is a wonder that the Open has managed to finish on schedule.

The two Americans, Andy Roddick and Agassi, may have benefited from an extra day's rest compared to their fellow semi-finalists, Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Nalbandian, but those who saw it as unfair conveniently forget that Roddick chose to play in damp conditions against Xavier Malisse in the round of 16, when the likes of Sjeng Schalken and Rainer Schuettler chose not to.

And as for Agassi, he was at one stage a round behind and it was only due to Taylor Dent's fortuitous retirement that he gained a day's advantage.

I have liked Roddick's approach throughout this tournament. Despite what Ivan Ljubicic may think of him, I believe he is good for the game. Yes, he's cocky, but in a positive way.

He's smart and he keeps people on their toes. He has also addressed his weaknesses; he has improved his backhand and his conditioning, which were previously liabilities, and also the way he structures his points. I hope he is around for a long time.

It was Tim Henman's misfortune to run into him in the first round. Going out so early in the championship after his title win in Washington where he beat Roddick en route was obviously a disappointment for the British player. I think he is right to be thinking in terms of getting back a place in the top 20; as for the top 10, we may have seen the last of him in there.

While he has had to deal with a shoulder injury these other guys, many of them in their early twenties, have got hungrier. The placement on his serve, as much as the speed, has not been good and he has started staying back on his second serve which I believe is the wrong approach.

One could argue that his forehand has improved but that doesn't necessarily make him a better player. He has got to bring his volleying into play more because he is up against players now with huge ground-strokes.

For the second time in three Slams an all-Williams women's final has been replaced by an all-Belgian one. Some are of the view that an asterisk should be placed next to the name of the winner of this year's final denoting the absence of the Williams sisters, but 50 years on from now all anyone will care is who won it.

Obviously the Americans' absence detracts from the event to an extent but no one who saw the Justine Henin-Hardenne-Jennifer Capriati semi-final would say that as a result it was devoid of the highest quality tennis.

© John McEnroe / The Sunday Telegraph.
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Hingiswinsthis said:
that is the best quote about Justine these past 2 weeks, "because you can't measure heart with a computer.":worship:
Thank you very much.
Greg Laub, is that really you?! :eek:

*calls out* oh fleemke....;)
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