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By Rohit Sharma
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Serena Williams vs. Justine Henin
Williams leads series 7-6
Last Meeting - 2008 Sony Ericsson Open Final
Williams won 6-2, 6-0
Saturday's women's final between Serena Williams and Justine Henin is simply a tournament organizers delight, it is a final that every tennis enthusiast had anticipated and it is a final that is by all means, bound to produce some of the best tennis the women's game has ever witnessed. Top seed and defending champion Serena Williams is gunning to be a part of history books by attempting to break the record of most Australian Open title wins in the Open era. Justine Henin, on the other hand is hoping to find solace on a place which she had bid adieu to for almost two years before the competitive edge started kicking in.
The two women have dominated the past decade with Henin staying on top of the rankings for more years than any of her contemporaries and Williams becoming the only active player to have won all four Grand Slam events. Interestingly, despite such a fierce rivalry shared between them, the two Tennis-Divas have never contested a Grand Slam final. So let's take a look at stakes of each of these two women in the final of the 2010 Australian Open.
Why Williams should win - There is a reason why Serena Williams has managed to perform so well in Grand Slam events over the past decade. Williams' never-ending hunger to be a part of the history books is what makes her the champion she is today. Where most of her contemporaries struggle to reach the last stages of a major event, Williams' determination gets her the opportunities which can only be fetched when you reach a certain level in sport. Determination and the never-say-die attitude is what makes her a class apart. Serena is the only player in the history to have won three Grand Slam events after saving a match point. Williams' ability to bounce back from the brink of defeat on innumerable moments is what makes her such a fighter. Technically, everything from serve to groundstrokes to net coverage, seems to be supporting Serena. Her only challenge will be the court coverage which isn't that much of a concern, considering her astonishing on-the-run shotmaking brilliance in her last match against Na Li.
When Serena and Venus were rising tennis players in the junior circuit, they both were asked who would they like to become when they grow up? Serena did not waste a single moment and promptly replied - "I want people to be like me."
Williams' road to the Final -
R128 beat Urszula Radwanska (POL) 6-2, 6-1
R64 beat Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-2, 6-1
R32 beat Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 6-0, 6-3
R16 beat Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-4, 6-2
QF beat Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2
SF beat Na Li 7-6(4), 7-6(1)
Why Henin should win - When Justine Henin announced her shocking retirement from women's tennis two years ago, it came as a surprise to many for she became the first player, men or women, to retire while on the pinnacle of the sport. So what was the motivating factor behind Henin's comeback attempt which seems to have found an amazing platform in the form of a place in the Australian Open final. Many people consider her retirement decision to be a hasty one, but according to Henin, leaving the sport removed a huge burden off her shoulders for she no longer enjoyed playing and competing at such a level. A couple of years put into perspective gave her an opportunity to think things over again and the Belgian superstar announced her comeback. Technically, Henin is extremely sound and does not miss a lot of opportunities of on-court sabotage, a mark of a real champion. Henin's swashbuckling movement, coupled with her angled backhand winners put her in a strong position. But despite all these back-ups, Henin's biggest strength is her 'hatred to lose' which is a common factor between her and Serena. And perhaps that's the reason why these women have produced such exhilirating level of tennis in their past encounters.
Henin's approach in the matches is a perfect blend of defensive and offensive game when most needed. Saturday's final may just be a showcase of Henin's one such talent.
Henin's road to the Final -
R128 beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3
R64 beat Elena Dementieva 7-5, 7-6(6)
R32 beat Alisa Kleybanova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
R16 beat Yanina Wickmayer 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3
QF beat Nadia Petrova 7-6(3), 7-5
SF beat Jie Zheng 6-1, 6-0
TennisEarth's Pick - Serena Williams in three sets of breath-taking tennis.
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