Tag Archive | "Henin"

Serena and Venus Head the Field at 2010 French Open

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Serena and Venus Head the Field at 2010 French Open


Today, the French Open draw was revealed.  Because Serena and Venus Williams are the top two seeds, the possibility of an all Williams final exists. However, with Justine Henin, a four time champion, a potential quarterfinal rival for Serena and Venus perhaps seeing Aravane Rezai or Nadia Petrova in the round of 16, the list of spoilers is extensive.  Here’s a snapshot of the likely key match-ups which may eventually determine the victor.

After months of being a spectator, Serena rejoined the tour in Rome where she reached the semifinals. Despite an early exit in singles in Madrid,  Serena got reacquainted with the surface by prevailing in doubles along with Venus.  Serena’s first obstacle would come in the form of Marion Bartoli in the round of 16 since she would play a denizen. Still, Serena’s biggest hindrance lies in the quarters.  Serena lost to Henin, the eventual champion, in 2003 and 2007.  On the other hand, that match may not materialize as Henin could battle Maria Sharapova in the third round.  Samantha Stosur, a semifinalist in 2009 and the titlist in Charleston this year, is another potential tough quarterfinal opponent for Serena.

Following Serena, Jelena Jankovic is the next highest seed in the top half of the draw.  With players such as Dinara Safina, Yanina Wickmayer and Vera Zvonareva returning from injury on Jankovic’s side of the draw, she should have an uneven full path to the quarters.  Agnieszka Radwanska or Ana Ivanovic could be Jankovic’s quarterfinal adversary.  Since her glorious days at Roland Garros in 2008, Ivanovic has slipped.  For the first time in months, Ivanovic showed true signs of life with a semifinal posting in Rome.  Perhaps it will take Paris to completely get Ivanovic out of her slump.

Venus Williams and defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova flank the bottom half of the draw.  So far this year, Kuznetsova’s results have been mediocre. Consequently, for Kuznetsova, it is safe to deduce that a replay of 2009 is a long shot.  In the first round, Kuznetsova faces a difficult opponent, Sorana Cirstea.  Should she move on, Maria Kirilenko could upset her in the third round.  Li Na and Francesca Schiavone could trouble Kuznetsova in the round of 16.  Moreover, legitimate stumbling blocks in the quarters for Kuznetsova include Flavia Pennetta, Lucie Safarova, Alexandra Dulgheru and Caroline Wozniacki.

On the other hand, Wozniacki, the third seed, has been hampered by an ankle injury since Charleston.  For that reason, Wozniacki has failed to make an impact after winning in Ponte Vedra Beach.  In the third round, Wozniacki may see Dulgheru and Pennetta or Safarova in the fourth round. Considering the caliber of those rivals, it’s doubtful that Wozniacki has lasting power.

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Quelle Surprise: Rezai Ambushes Venus in Madrid Final

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Quelle Surprise: Rezai Ambushes Venus in Madrid Final


For the second consecutive week, an unseeded player rules at a premier clay event.  In the finals of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai stunned world number three Venus Williams.  Rezai prevailed 6-2, 7-5 over Williams to capture the grandest title of her blooming career.

After breezing through her initial game, at 1 all, Venus made an error on game point leading to deuce.  Later, by sending a forehand out of play, Venus gave Rezai a second break point.  When Williams netted a backhand, Rezai took a 2-1 lead.  Subsequent to a double fault, Rezai provoked four straight miscues from Williams and consolidated for 3-1.  Then, with Venus serving at 2-4, she produced her second double fault of the game to hand Aravane double break point.  With a crosscourt forehand return winner, Rezai extended her lead to 5-2.  Thereafter, with a love game, Rezai grabbed the first set.

The previous set, Rezai won 100% of her first serve points.  If Williams intended to turn this match around, she would need the Frenchwoman to cool off.  After Venus held, in a game that included a double fault, Rezai had a backhand go long permitting Williams her initial break chance of the match.  With an ace, the Frenchwoman erased that deficit.  By converting a forehand crosscourt winner, Williams had a fourth break point opportunity.  Venus cashed in when Aravane’s backhand crosscourt misfired.  However, the next game, a lack of first serves allowed Rezai to break back.  Subsequently, a backhand up the winner handed Venus another break point.  Williams took a 3-1 edge when Rezai’s forehand traveled long.

Despite dealing with a break point, Williams consolidated for 4-1.  Soon, Venus had two chances to get a double break lead, yet, Rezai hung tough to keep the margin to one break.  Serving at 2-5, with an error, Rezai gifted Williams her first set point. Once more, the Frenchwoman goaded the miscues from her opponent to remain in the set. With a string of mistakes by Venus, Aravane manufactured two break points and by connecting on a forehand down the line winner got back on serve at 4-5.  Following, Rezai wiped out five additional set points by Williams to level things at 5 all.  That ultimate game proved a back breaker for Williams.  After a backhand pass winner by Rezai, Williams made two backhand errors to face 0-40.  With another backhand miscue by Venus, Rezai secured a 6-5 advantage.  As the backhand continued to leak, Rezai obtained double championship point.  Finally, by provoking a forehand mistake by Williams, Rezai pocketed the trophy.

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Just Like Old Times: Henin Pockets First Title Since Return

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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.

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Stosur Smashes Zvonareva In Charleston Final

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Stosur Smashes Zvonareva In Charleston Final


By virtue of prevailing in their last four meetings, Samantha Stosur, the 4th  seed and world 11th, was favored to win over Vera Zvonareva seeded 7th and ranked 22nd  in the Family Circle Cup final.  However, Stosur’s 1-6 record in finals left plenty of room for pause.  With ten titles under her belt including one this year, Zvonareva had experience on her side.  Still, Stosur obliterated her prior performances from her mind and crushed Zvonareva 6-0,6-3 to become the first Aussie to conquer Charleston.

With three straight winners, Stosur opened with a love hold.  Following a forehand error by Zvonareva, Stosur had break point.  The Aussie captured the break with an overhead winner.  Then, by culminating another love game with her sixth winner, Stosur took a 3-0 lead.  Following three consecutive errors by Zvonareva, Stosur broke again.  Later, with another forehand winner, Stosur stretched her lead to 5-0.  With two forehand winners and a double fault donation by Zvonareva, Stosur arrived at double set point.  As a result of an error by Zvonareva, Stosur secured d the set.

In her previous matches, Zvonareva had not relinquished a set.  Considering a competitive encounter in Indian Wells last month despite Stosur being triumphant, it seemed a matter of time before Zvonareva struck back and Stosur cooled down. Yet, with a few more winners, Stosur readily held to start the second set.  Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Stosur obtained triple break point.  By converting a forehand down the line winner, Stosur claimed the break.  Subsequently, with an ace to close out a love game, Stosur sprinted to a 3-0 lead.  After two Stosur forehand winners and a double fault, Zvonareva stared at double break point.  Unable to bottle her frustration any longer, Zvonareva erupted by wrecking a racket.  Thereafter, the Russian won the next four point for 1-3.  Momentarily, Zvonareva appeared to have found the antidote to Stosur’s hot hand.  After holding for 2-4, because of a double fault and two forehand mistakes by Stosur, Zvonareva had double break point.  When Stosur sliced a backhand out of play, the players were back on serve.  Undaunted, Stosur resumed her relentless attack.  In forcing a miscue from her rival, Stosur fabricated double break point.  The Aussie followed that up with a forehand down the line winner for 5-3.  Quickly, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Stosur set up triple championship point.  Stosur guaranteed the trophy with a forehand crosscourt winner.

The Family Circle Cup, a WTA premier event, is the second and biggest title of Stosur’s career.  Last season in reaching the semifinals at the French Open, Stosur revealed she is a legitimate competitor on clay.  Even though those at the head of the class when it comes to favorites at the majors, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams were absent from this event; through this victory, Stosur demonstrates she will be a mighty contender this clay season as she climbs back into the top ten.

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final


The grand duel predicted between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Sony Ericsson Open Final never materialized.   Instead, it was a 58 minute blow out as Clijsters ran away with the match 6-2, 6-1 to gather her second championship trophy in Miami.

After the semifinal with Justine Henin where Clijsters almost let the match get away, Kim knew that she would need to be well focused for the finals.  That’s exactly how Clijsters came out.  From the first game, Clijsters placed Venus’ serve under fire with two errors at 0-30.  Despite recovering to hold, this was a glimpse of how the rest of Venus’ day would unfold.  With Venus unable to find a first serve, Clijsters punished a second serve, forcing Williams into a forehand miscue for break point.  With another forehand error by Williams, Clijsters obtained the break for 2-1.  During the change over, Venus briefly called the trainer to re-wrap her left knee and right thigh.  Despite two double faults the subsequent game, Clijsters managed to get enough help from Williams in terms of mistakes to consolidate for 3-1.  The thinking was that Williams would rise up and challenge;  however, that did not happen.  Up 40-15, Venus botched an overhead then double faulted for deuce.  Williams also threw in a second straight double fault to give Clijsters break point.   When Venus netted the volley, Kim had a double break edge at 4-1. Thus, Clijsters sprinted away with the first set.

Still, the torture was only beginning  for Williams.  Subsequent to starting the second set with a double fault, Venus faced break point when a backhand crosscourt traveled long.  Despite erasing that with a good serve for deuce then getting to game point, Venus could not string together two consecutive points.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters arrived at her second break point.  Venus allowed Clijsters the easy road to a second set lead by double faulting.  Following Clijsters consolidating with a love game, Williams shoveled herself into a 0-30 ditch.  At that moment, the crowd demanded a response from Venus with a round of applause.  Yet, this was to no avail.  Williams dumped another backhand into the net to face triple break point.  Unlike her match with Henin, Clijsters was not in a charitable mood.  Kim provoked a forehand crosscourt mistake from Venus to again widen the gap by a double break .  Next, with a backhand down the line winner, Clijsters grabbed an impressive 4-0 lead.  The subsequent game, Venus at least held to make the score respectable.  However, serving to lengthen the match, Venus committed her 29th unforced error to hand Kim triple match point.  With another flying forehand by Venus, Kim won the championship.

Taking nothing away from Clijsters, this was far from the performance expected from Williams, a 5 time Wimbledon champion.  Therefore, in the post match interview, MiamiTennisNews.com tried to ascertain exactly what the issue was with Venus:

Q.  Were you having timing issues with [your] serve today?
WILLIAMS:  No, . . . I think it was more or less my groundstrokes. . .  on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. . . I did start missing more first serves in the second set, so that didn’t help my cause.

Q.  Is it surprising to see how well Kim and Justine have done after their comeback and to just be able to go through a lot of top ranked players right off the [bat]?

WILLIAMS:  Yeah,. . . they’re playing really, really well.  This is just great and amazing for them.  They’re playing great.

After the match, Clijsters had this to say in reference to competing against someone who is struggling:  ” you constantly have to tell . . . and remind yourself to really keep [being aggressive and move forward], especially when you see that you have a second serve . . . it’s easier when things are really exciting and you’re both playing really [well] . . .  you almost have to be dominant and . . .  bring your best level.  But, when you feel like your opponent is not giving [her]  best tennis or bringing [ her] best tennis, you just really want to try . . . not focus on [her]  too much and just really focus on yourself.  [To] try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.

For Clijsters, this win represents her 37th career title and her second of the year.  Kim prevailed in Brisbane over Justine prior to the Australian Open.  Clijsters’ ranking will move from 16 to 10 on Monday.  As a result of this defeat, Williams’ 15 match winning streak come to an end.  Regardless, Venus will get a slight bump in the ranking from 5 to 4.

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Main Event:  Venus and Kim in Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Main Event: Venus and Kim in Sony Ericsson Open Final


The women’s final is front and center this afternoon as Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters bang heads for the Sony Ericsson Open trophy.

Venus attempts to avenge her fourth round 2009 U.S. Open loss and to stop a three match skid to Clijsters.  If Venus is successful, she will claim her third consecutive title; her first in Miami since 2001 but her fourth overall.

For her part, Clijsters tries to prevail in her second final this year.  She defeated fellow Belgian Justine Henin earlier this year for the Brisbane title. The winner in Miami in 2005, Clijsters is looking for her second trophy.

Later, Max Mirnyi and Mahesh Bhupathi battle Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes in the ATP doubles final.  Mirnyi captured the title last year with partner Andy Ram and is going for a record fifth doubles championship in Miami.  His teammate this year has yet to seize this prize in Miami.

In the late afternoon, a benefit for the victims of the earthquake in Chile takes place.  “Champions for Chile” features doubles action with Jim Courier and Andy Roddick partnering to play against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez and Gustavo Kuerten.

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Clijsters Outlives Henin in Sony Ericsson Open Semifinal

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Clijsters Outlives Henin in Sony Ericsson Open Semifinal


For the most part, when Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin meet, the extraordinary performance by these players keeps spectators on the edge of their seats.  In the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open last night that was again the case. Still, moments of brilliance by both athletes were overshadowed by too many lows. In an error plagued match, Clijsters outlasted Henin 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 to secure her place in the finals along side Venus Williams.

With a forehand error by Clijsters, Henin got a break point in the opening game of the match.  However, as a result of superior serving, Clijsters held.  After an initial love service game, her next time up, Henin let a 40-15 game get away due to a string of forehand errors.  Thus, Clijsters obtained a break and promptly consolidated. As Henin served at 2-5, because of a volleying mistake, Clijsters arrived at double set point.  With an overhead winner, Clijsters broke Henin and claimed the set.

Clijsters’ domination persisted through the early phase of the second set; she broke Henin to put herself ahead 3-0.  Three games short of a straight sets victory, Clijsters’ play dove.  Serving at 3-1, Clijsters netted a volley and committed a double fault wiping out her break advantage.  Thanks to that invite, Henin equalized the set at 3 all.  Later on, with a return winner, Henin obtained a break for 6-5.  However, because of double faults and errors, Henin wasted a set point.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters squared the set.  Nevertheless, Henin assumed control of the tiebreaker, prolonging the semifinal.

The last set, Henin produced a few sensational backhands to break at love for 2-0.  But, the subsequent game, two double faults, including one at love-40, permitted Clijsters entrance back into the match.  After readily holding, Clijsters broke Henin at love for the second straight time to capture her 4th successive game and a 4-2 lead.  Despite the serve repeatedly let her down, Henin was tenacious.  Henin’s swatted away another break point to stay one break behind at 3-4.  Aided by Clijsters’ double fault and a forehand crosscourt winner, Henin arrived at triple break point.  Because of a miscue by Clijsters, the set was leveled at 4.  Still, Clijsters was equally stubborn.  Her second opportunity, Clijsters broke for 5-4 with a backhand winner .  Yet, serving for the match, Clijsters double faulted on double break point.  Eventually, the set moved on to a tiebreaker.

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami


Along with winning majors, Serena Williams has made a habit of hoisting the trophy in Miami, the “5th grand slam”.  In 2005 and 2009, Serena stopped sister Venus Williams from playing in the title match by beating her in the semifinals. Whilst Venus is disappointed that her sibling is unable to compete due to injury, she is perhaps relieved not to have to go through Serena to advance to the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Today, Venus defeated Marion Bartoli 6-3,6-4 to book her space in the finals for the first time since 2001.

After a love hold, Venus got to triple break point when Bartoli double faulted.  Venus converted once Bartoli dumped a backhand crosscourt into the net.  Subsequent to erasing break point, with a backhand down the line winner, Venus extended her lead to 3-0.  In an atypical game where Venus committed two double faults, Bartoli was back on serve at 2-3.  However, after carrying the first point, Bartoli produced three consecutive double faults to hand Venus double break point.  Trying attain deuce, Bartoli contributed a fourth double fault to Venus’ cause, allowing the latter to get to 4-2.  With an easy game punctuated by a forehand winner, Venus consolidated for 5-2.  As Venus served for the set, Bartoli put up a fight.  Still, in the long run, Venus took the first set 6-3.

The second set by pushing Venus into errors, Bartoli broke at love for 3-1.  However, by doing the same the next game to her opponent, Venus got back on serve.  After each woman cancelled break point on her serve, Venus kicked into another gear and secured the break for 5-4.  Then, with two aces and a forehand volley winner, Venus arrived at triple match point.  Venus finally stamped her ticket into the finals when Bartoli’s return went out of bounds.

Since losing in the quarterfinals at the Australia Open to Na Li, Venus is on a 15-0 winning streak.  That includes defending titles back to back in Dubai and Acapulco.  In the Sony Ericsson Open final, Venus will contend with either Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin.  These two will do battle tonight.

Venus holds a 7-2 record versus Henin. But, at their last meeting, the 2007 U.S. Open,  Henin prevailed in straight sets.  Despite a 6-5 mark versus Clijsters, Venus has been on the wrong end their last three encounters including the 2009 U.S. Open.  Irrespective of the adversary that Venus faces, the finals possess all the ingredients for an excellent match.

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Women Semifinal Day at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open:  Venus, Bartoli, Henin and Clijsters

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Women Semifinal Day at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: Venus, Bartoli, Henin and Clijsters


At the Sony Ericsson Open today, the women finalists will be determined along with the semifinalists for the top half of the men’s draw.

For the third time, Venus Williams takes on Marion Bartoli. Their head to head stands at one all.  Williams carried their 2007 Wimbledon final match while Bartoli won their last encounter in Stanford in 2009.  In the ultimate session, Kim Clijsters clashes with Justine Henin.  Earlier in the year, they played in the finals in Brisbane.  Clijsters defeated Henin in three sets in what she stated was “ one of . . .  most exciting matches I think that I’ve played [in]  my career . . . we had a great time out there”.

In the initial male quarterfinal, Tomas Berdych faces Fernando Verdasco.  After his amazing triumph over Roger Federer, Berdych attempts to at least equal his best result in Miami, he reached the semifinals in 2008.  Berdych has 5-3 record against Verdasco.  They’ve split their last two meetings.

Mikhail Youzhny and Robin Soderling battle it out for the ultimate semifinal berth.  Soderling has been victorious their last three out of four matches. In Rotterdam this year, Soderling beat Youzhny. Soderling was well on his way to securing the trophy before the Russian retired with a hamstring problem.

In addition, there’s a sprinkling of doubles as Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo square off against Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes for a spot in the finals.  Arnaud Clement and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga meet Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi in the quarterfinals.  Last year, Mirnyi won the title with partner Andy Ram.

Here is today’s complete schedule :

THURSDAY, APRIL 1

STADIUM start 1:00 PM
[13] M Bartoli (FRA) vs [3] V Williams (USA) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[16] T Berdych (CZE) vs [10] F Verdasco (ESP) - ATP
Almagro/Robredo vs [3]Dlouhy/Paes

Starting at 7:00 PM
[13] M Youzhny (RUS) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP

Not Before 9:00 PM
[14] K Clijsters (BEL) vs [WC] J Henin (BEL) – WTA

COURT 2 Not before 4:30 pm
Clement/Tsonga vs. [4]Bhupathi/Mirnyi

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All Belgian Semis:  Henin Halts Wozniacki and Clijsters Shuts Down Stosur

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All Belgian Semis: Henin Halts Wozniacki and Clijsters Shuts Down Stosur


Because this was their initial career meeting, Justine Henin was a bit anxious about her quarterfinal opponent at the Sony Ericsson Open, Caroline Wozniacki.  Nevertheless, the former world number one and multiple major winner as customary figured it out.  Henin ousted the second seed in three sets 6-7,6-3,6-4.

Henin struck initially, breaking Wozniacki the first game of the match.  Although the world number two swiftly returned the favor, in Wozniacki’s second game, with a forehand volley winner Henin had break point.  Justine converted when Wozniacki’s forehand sailed long.  After consolidating for 3-1, Henin found herself on the ropes in the 6th game, double break point down.  Henin dropped that game to equalize the set at 3 all. Towards the end, the players traded breaks, sending the set to a tiebreaker whereby Wozniacki took a one set lead in the match.

In the second set, after both women held serve comfortably, Wozniacki double faulted to give Henin break point.  Still, the teenager calmly brushed that aside and got to 3 all.  Henin reciprocated the next game, wiping out two break points.  On the change over, dealing with a lower back injury, Henin called for medical attention.  When Henin got back to business with a return winner, she set up double break point.  Justine obtained the 5-3 edge when Wozniacki made a backhand crosscourt miscue. The next game, with a forehand winner, Henin seized the set.

The third set, after Wozniacki committed a forehand error on game point, she attempted to volley off an overhead by Henin but failed. Now with break point, Henin forced Wozniacki into a backhand crosscourt error.  Following that, Henin consolidated for 3-1.  From that point on, both players cruised on serve.  With Wozniacki unable to fabricate a break point, on triple match point, Henin closed out the match with her signature stroke, the backhand down the line.

After the match, MiamiTennisNews.com inquired the following from Henin:
Q.  Is it difficult to come up with a strategy when you face a player for the first time?
HENIN:  Yeah, it’s always difficult.  Especially now that I’m coming back, I like to know a little bit about what can happen.  When you face someone that you [have] never played in the past, you don’t have any [reference].  You just look [for] your confidence on the court and how to feel comfortable with the game she gives. So I do prefer to play someone that I know better.

Although it’s been three years since Kim Clijsters and Samantha Stosur last played, Clijsters didn’t seem unimpressed with her rival’s much improved game.  Clijsters dispatched Stosur in straight sets 6-3,7-5.

After holding serve at love, Clijsters provoked three consecutive miscues from Stosur for triple break point.  When Stosur sliced a backhand into the net, Clijsters pocketed the break.  Subsequently, Clijsters consolidated for a 3-0 lead.  Despite Stosur guarding serve, Clijsters refused to permit her back in the set. Ultimately, Clijsters wrapped things up with a love game.

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