Williams and Henin set for Melbourne showdown
Originally published on: 26/02/10 13:03
Williams, who is bidding to win her fifth title at Melbourne, needed two tie-break sets to overcome the plucky challenge of Li Na 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7-1) in a shade over two hours. Henin spent less than half that time on court as she breezed through her semi-final against the unseeded Zheng Jie 6-1 6-0 in just 51 minutes.
“I’ve been playing a lot of tough matches in the last two weeks so that was the best to recover,” said Henin.
It was by far the easiest match of her difficult passage to the final that has seen her beat world number five Elena Dementieva, Yanina Wickmayer (16) and Nadia Petrova (19) before facing the daunting prospect of the world number one in Saturday night’s final.
The 27-year-old’s run has reprised memories of her countrywoman Kim Clijsters’ own remarkable return at the US Open last year, when she returned from retirement and becoming a mother to lift the trophy at Flushing Meadows.
Henin is competing in just her second tournament back after a 20-month retirement and has admitted to feeling fatigued in between matches as she reacquaints herself with the rigours of the tour.
She added: “I knew it could be a dangerous match. Especially in my situation, I was very excited about the possibility of being in another grand slam final.
“I knew I had to be really careful about that match. I’ve been very focused, very concentrated. I did my job perfectly well. That worked pretty good. I’m very excited about what’s going to come up for me and can’t wait for it now.”
Williams admitted she had been fully tested by Li as she was forced to dig deep for the second match running to progress. The American had needed four match points before she finally won the contest with an ace.
“I had so many match points and I blew it,” a relieved Williams said. “I knew on serve (in the tie-break) I had the chance to close it out and I did. I had to because she is an amazing fighter.”