Henin reaches third round at Wimbledon
Wednesday 23 June 2010
Justine Henin advanced to the third round at Wimbledon by beating Kristina Barrois 6-3, 7-5 today.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion was broken twice while serving for the match, but then regrouped and went on to secure victory on a sunny Court 2.
Henin built leads of 4-1 in the first set and 5-1 in the second. Serving for the win at 5-2, she double-faulted on consecutive points and lost the game, then lost serve again for 5-all.
But Henin broke back and served out the victory at love. She breathed a sigh of relief after winning the final point.
Umbrellas were out — not for rain, but for shield from the sun on the hottest day of the tournament. With temperature heading into the low 80s, the All England Club's public address announcer advised spectators to make sure they had skin protection, head wear and water.
"All are vital necessities," he said.
Aside from the wobble at the finish, Henin kept her cool and improved to 7-0 on grass this year. She won the title at Den Bosch, Netherlands last week.
Seeded 17th, the Belgian is playing at Wimbledon for the first time since 2007. She retired in 2008 and rejoined the tour in January.
Henin seeks the only major title she has yet to win. She was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2001 and 2006.
Maria Sharapova's back at Wimbledon, healthy again and hoping to display the grass-court flair that helped her win the title in 2004 as a precocious 17-year-old. She started strong Tuesday, beating fellow Russian Anastasia Pivovarova 6-1, 6-0 in 54 minutes.
It has been awhile since Sharapova made a run at Wimbledon. Two years ago, she lost in the second round to Alla Kudryavtseva, a Russian ranked 154th. Last year, following a 10-month layoff because of a shoulder injury, she lost in the second round to Gisela Dulko.
Now, she's sounding optimistic about an extended stay.
"My body feels good," she said. "I'm in much better match condition than I was last year."
She's 18-5 in 2010 with two tournament titles. And she's having fun.
"My joy in the game is pretty up there with what it was before I got injured," she said. "Maybe even more so, because it was taken away from me for such a long period of time that it made me realize how blessed you are when you're actually on the court, are able to hit a tennis ball for an hour a day, and be good at what you do."
The former No. 1 dropped out of the top 100 during her layoff. She is now 17th, still low enough that she becomes a dangerous floater in the draw, and she could face defending champion Serena Williams in the fourth round.
Sharapova's right shoulder, which required surgery in October 2008, bothers her only on occasion.
"If it's like really, really cold, like almost snowing," she said.
Wimbledon's weather can be bad, but there's no snow in the forecast. Nonetheless, Sharapova will give herself time to get loose.
"When I was younger, a few years ago, if I wouldn't play for a few days, I would come out, the third, fourth serve I could hit pretty much as hard as I can," she said. "Now it's like 10, 15, 20 serves by the time it warms up. It's just those little things."
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