In what could be the women’s match of the year (and we’re only two weeks in) Kim Clijsters prevailed in an epic match against fellow Belgian Justine Henin at the Brisbane International 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6).
Clijsters jumped out to a first set win at 6-3 and with steady play soared to a double break 4-1 lead in the second. But Henin found her form and soon got back to 4-4 which unnerved Clijsters.
With her 6-4, 6-2 semifinal win over Andrea Petkovic at the Brisbane International, Kim Clijsters set up another finals clash with Justine Henin.
This is the first meeting between the two after their last encounter at Wimbledon in 2006 which Henin won. Henin is still 12-10 lifetime against her fellow Belgian.
Henin has cited Clijsters’ stunning comeback and U.S. Open win as one of the inspirations behind her own return. Clijsters is slightly favored in the match as Henin’s form this week has been shaky at times.
Despite their less then friendly rivalry in the past, mostly due to Henin’s cool persona in her “first career” as she calls it, both women expressed excitement at playing each other tomorrow.
Even if Henin loses, how she projects herself to the public and media now and during the Australian Open will be just as important as her win/lose ratio. Henin certainly earned respect on tour for her many titles, but Clijsters earned more genuine admiration just for her good natured personality.
As with other players in the past, it’s usually those who embrace their public role that end up being more admired as time goes on. If Henin wants that legacy, she will have to work at it just as much as she does with her famous one-handed backhand.
The New Year is not but two days old but the pros are already gearing up for the Australian Open by taking part in the warm-up events with the first one, the Brisbane International, already underway.
Unlike the clay court or hard court seasons, the “Aussie” season is a two week whirlwind of several events, some playing concurrently, and even on different continents with some of the top men, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, choosing to get ready at the Doha event in Qatar.
All eyes will be on Justine Henin this week at Brisbane as she makes her return to the tour with an opening match against No. 20 Nadia Petrova. Even if Henin gets some big wins here and at Sydney, featuring nine of the top ten women, I still think her draw at the Open will be the deciding factor if she’s got a shot to win it all.
With the brevity of the AO series it would be hard to look for trends or players on winning streaks to gauge what might happen in Melbourne later this month. Still, I would look out for Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur, Jelena Dokic and rising star Bernard Tomic as they all will want to make strong showings now if they have any hopes of winning their country’s Grand Slam.
Check out the Brisbane International Site here.
Dinara Safina is paying the price for trying to hold onto her then No. 1 ranking during the end of the season while dealing with a serious back injury. According to the AP today, Safina has pulled out of the Brisbane International tournament because of the ongoing injury.
“I know she (Safina) would have been working around the clock to try to be ready for the event, but in the end time beat her and she is still undergoing treatment,” said tournament director Steve Ayles during a telephone interview.
The Brisbane event is a key warmup tourney for next month’s Australian Open as most of the top ten women players will show up along with Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.