Henin faces first big test as she confronts old rival Sharapova
Saturday 29 May 2010
Justine Henin has won her last 23 matches and her last 39 sets here at the French Open but today the 27-year-old Belgian faces the first major test of her ambition to reclaim the title she last won three years ago.
The four-times champion, who completed a 6-3, 6-3 victory yesterday over the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova, now takes on Maria Sharapova, who beat Kirsten Flipkens by the same score.
The two former world No 1s are both trying to recapture old glories. Henin came out of a 20-month retirement in January, while Sharapova has spent much of the last two years recovering from injury. The 23-year-old Russian did not play for seven months following shoulder surgery and an elbow problem recently kept her out for almost two months.
Although the French is the only Grand Slam title to have eluded her, Sharapova won a clay-court tournament in Strasbourg last week and has a decent record here. In her last six visits she has never failed to reach the fourth round and three years ago she made the semi-finals.
Henin has won six of their nine meetings, including a quarter-final here in 2005, but Sharapova won their last two Grand Slam matches, in New York in 2006 and in Melbourne in 2008.
"I expect a big fight, as we've always had in the past,'' Henin said. "I'll have to raise my level and keep my intensity, concentration and motivation really high.''
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, was beaten in three sets by Maria Kirilenko, while the Williams sisters both progressed with the minimum of fuss, Serena beating Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-1 and Venus beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-4.
Why does Manuel Pellegrini keep picking Martin Demichelis for Manchester City?
England 29 Wales 18 player ratings: Who was the star man at Twickenham?
David Meyler, Samuel Eto'o and the best, most controversial and bizarre goal celebrations
Bayern Munich v Arsenal: 10 reasons for Arsenal to be optimistic of Champions League progress
Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger pleads for 'fair chance' from referee as Arsenal look to turn around Champions League deficit
- 1 Bad cattitude: Family call police after crazed and 'hostile cat with a history of violence' attacks baby before attempting to 'flee custody'
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate