Henin powers into final to renew old Williams rivalry

Justine Henin has usually managed to stay one step ahead of Kim Clijsters and the seven-times Grand Slam champion remains on course to upstage her Belgian rival here tomorrow. Clijsters completed the mother of all comebacks by winning last year's US Open, having taken a two-year break from the game to start a family, but Henin will outdo even that achievement if she beats Serena Williams in tomorrow's Australian Open final.

Clijsters won her second Grand Slam in her third tournament after her return, while Henin is making only her second appearance since coming out of retirement earlier this month. Henin, who lost to Clijsters in the final of her first event in Brisbane three weeks ago, could be in the bizarre position of being a Grand Slam champion without a world ranking. In order to be given a ranking players have to compete in a minimum of three tournaments.

Yesterday's semi-finals offered the prospect of an all-Chinese final, but Henin and Williams never looked in danger. Henin beat Zheng Jie 6-1, 6-0 in just 51 minutes – the shortest match of the tournament so far and the most one-sided semi-final here since Chris Evert beat Andrea Jaeger by the same score 28 years ago – while Williams beat Li Na 7-6, 7-6.

Henin had said in earlier rounds that she was feeling tired, but she believes she will be in good shape for the final. "I'm fresh mentally and emotionally, even if it took me a lot of energy in the last few weeks to come back and play my first matches and face all of this again," she said.

"It's my first Grand Slam since I came back and we're already there, so it's more than a dream. I'm so happy to play against her [Williams] because if I want to win another Grand Slam I'll have to beat the best player in the world. That's just the biggest challenge I could have."

Williams is the current world No 1, while Henin was No 1 when she retired in May 2008. They have been the two outstanding players of recent years and there is great rivalry between them. The American leads 7-6 in their head-to-head record and won their last meeting, at Miami in 2008. Henin has won four of their six matches at Grand Slam level – including three successive quarter-final wins in 2007 – but they have never met in a final.

Henin won the title here in 2004 and had to retire with a stomach problem when facing Amélie Mauresmo in the 2006 final. Williams, who crushed Dinara Safina in the final 12 months ago, will be going for her fifth Melbourne title, though she has never made a successful defence of her crown.

Laura Robson reached the semi-finals of the girls' singles with a crushing 6-1, 6-0 victory over the American Ester Goldfeld. The 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, who celebrated her 16th birthday last week, won in just 43 minutes. In today's semi-finals she was due to meet the Czech Republic's Krisyna Pliskova, who beat Timea Babos, the top seed.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test