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Just Like Old Times: Henin Pockets First Title Since Return

After runner placements in Brisbane and the Australian Open, Justine Henin captured her first title since rejoining the tour.  At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, a premier indoor clay tournament, Henin prevailed over Samantha Stosur 6-4,2-6,6-1 in the finals.

Both Stosur and Henin entered as wildcards.  While the latter was unseeded, the former was seeded 7th and won 11 successive matches including a clay title in Charleston.  The first four games, each player readily held serve.  At 2 all, with a backhand down the line winner, Stosur had game point.  By connecting on a backhand down the line return, Henin leveled things at deuce.  After provoking an error from Stosur on a second game point, because of a double fault, Henin had break point.  With a strong forehand return, Henin forced another mistake from Stosur to seize the break.  As Henin served at 4-3, Stosur effaced a game point for deuce by forcing a forehand miscue.  Subsequently, Stosur manufactured a break point.  Henin got out of jail with a good serve and eventually held for 5-3.  Later, on her second set point, Henin bagged the first set.

As a result of a flubbed forehand volley, Stosur faced double break point in the second set.  However, Stosur rebounded with a myriad of good serves to hold for 2-1.  Next, serving at 2 all, by netting a backhand, Stosur stared at her third break point this set.  Again with a couple of huge serves, Stosur remained on track at 3-2.  Then, after Henin netted a forehand, Stosur had her initial break point.  Henin escaped with a decent serve. Next, with a forehand crosscourt pass winner, Stosur fabricated her second break point which she converted when Henin erred with a forehand up the line.  After consolidating for 5-2, with a forehand up the line winner, Stosur broke to take the set.

Subsequent to opening the third set with a love hold, Stosur made three consecutive errors to hand Henin triple break point. When Stosur dumped a forehand into the net, Henin took a 2-0 lead.  Following an easy game to consolidate, with a forehand winner and two sensational returns forcing Stosur into miscues, Henin had triple break point again.  This time, Stosur double faulted to extend Henin’s advantage to 4-1.  After another comfortable hold, Henin obtained double break point with backhand volley winner.  With another deep forehand return, Henin coerced Stosur into a wayward shot to capture the championship.

This week, most of the seeds made an early exit.  Svetlana Kuznetsova, the defending champion, was taken down in the second round by Na Li. Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed, was ousted in the second round by Lucie Safarova.  Her first tournament after months of nursing a back injury, Dinara Safina fell in the quarterfinals to Shahar Peer.  Before being stopped by Stosur, Russian qualifier Anna Lapushchenkova beat Safarova to reach her first tour semifinal.

Ecstatic with bagging her 42nd career title, last one was in 2008 Antwerp, Henin reiterated how much she was enjoying the game since her comeback.  Henin credited Roger Federer’s win at the French Open for “[bringing] back the fire” which instigated her return to competitive play.  Henin was glad that she could share this special moment with the crowd and her love ones.  From 24, Henin will climb into the top 20; Stosur will also see bump in her ranking.

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