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.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape