Henin-Hardenne wins US Open

A resilient Justine Henin-Hardenne beat Kim Clijsters 7-5, 6-1 for the US Open championship to win her second Grand Slam title of the year.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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New York:

Justine Henin-Hardenne, uncertain of even playing due to dehydration and fatigue, routed top-ranked Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-1 in the US Open final to capture her second Grand Slam tennis title. Less than 24 hours after taking intravenous fluids following a three-hour semi-final struggle with American Jennifer Capriati, Henin-Hardenne overpowered her Belgian compatriot, winning nine of the last 10 games. "I'm the happiest woman in the world right now," Henin-Hardenne said. "I was feeling very tired but when you have to play a Grand Slam final, you cannot be tired. You have to give your best." Henin-Hardenne ripped 18 winners past Clijsters, who made 40 unforced errors and was not a factor after rallying from 3-0 down to lead 5-4 in the first set. "It's very disappointing to have lost here," Clijsters said. "I felt like Justine was too strong, had an answer for a lot of my shots." Repeat of French Open Henin-Hardenne, 21, beat Clijsters, 20, in June's French Open final for her first Slam crown. Both women were ousted in the fourth round here last year. "I always thought the first win in a Grand Slam would be the most important one, but it's a great feeling because it's a very different victory from the French Open," Henin-Hardenne said. "I never really played well at the US Open." Clijsters remains number one, the lone woman ever in the spot without a Slam title. Henin-Hardenne is only 8-8 lifetime against Clijsters but 5-1 in finals against her and the two Slam titles show, who is truly best. "Maybe it means the French Open wasn't an accident," Henin-Hardenne said. "It's great confirmation. It's just amazing. Two Slams in one year, I couldn't believe I could do it this year but I feel stronger than I've been. "I knew I wasn't going to let this match go. I had to win because I had the match under control and it was important for me to play well in the important points. That's what I did." Henin-Hardenne took home a one million-dollar top prize, twice what Clijsters won. But the check award ceremony drew laughs when she was greeted with "Congratulations Christine" by bank executive Bill Harrison. Poor fitness While there was no repeat of the third-set leg cramps that plagued the champion against Capriati, Henin-Hardenne knew she was not 100 per cent. "My legs were feeling heavy for sure. Mentally it was important to forget it," Henin-Hardenne said. "Kim wasn't playing very well in the first three games. Then she started to play much better. I wasn't ready for it. I needed a few games to be very aggressive. At 5-all, I think the match turned." Fitness has been a major emphasis for Henin-Hardenne, who said that a year ago she could not have lasted through the rain-induced endurance test of three matches in three days after a test like her 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7/4) semi-final win. (PTI)