Saturday, September 8, 2007

Henin Henin overpowers Kuznetsova for another U.S. Open title

Flushing Meadows, NY (Sports Network) - Justine Henin finished off a dominating two weeks at the U.S. Open, blitzing Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 6-3 to win her seventh Grand Slam event.

It capped a monumental effort for Henin, as she beat the Williams sisters back-to-back and became the first person to do it en route to a Grand Slam title. Henin disposed of Serena in the quarterfinals, and then ousted Venus in Friday's semifinals.

Not only that, but the top-seeded/world No. 1 Belgian, also the 2003 U.S. Open champion and last year's runner-up to Russian Maria Sharapova, did not drop a set at this '07 fortnight.

Also, Henin moved to 15-2 all-time against the fourth-seeded Kuznetsova, who overcame fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze on Friday, but lost in her second U.S. Open final in four years. She won the title in 2004, beating Elena Dementieva for the championship.

This also marked a rematch of last year's French Open final, won in straight sets by Henin. Kuznetsova won their most recent encounter, at Berlin in May, but Saturday night proved to be a much different story, as Henin broke twice early and took a 4-0 lead in the opening set. Henin saved one break point and then smashed an ace for the four-game lead.

After saving one break point in the seventh game, Kuznetsova couldn't match Henin's power as the first set ended in a quick 33 minutes.

The fourth game of the second set went to deuce seven times, but then Kuznetsova failed to get the ball over the net on a drop shot attempt. She then hit a return long and wide, and the break moved Henin to a 3-1 edge.

A finalist in all four majors last year, Henin saved a pair of break points in the next game, and an overhand smash gave her a 4-1 lead.

A backhand winner near the net moved Henin to a 5-2 advantage. After Kuznetsova held serve, Henin got some butterflies and double faulted twice in the next game. In fact, she had to save three break points, being helped on two of them by errant returns by Kuznetsova. A return long by the Russian followed by a backhand winner near the net gave Henin the title.

Henin, who had seven double faults, didn't have her serve broken the entire match as Kuznetsova went 0-for-6 on such opportunities. Kuznetsova was hurt by 29 unforced errors.

Kuznetsova, who failed in her attempt for a 10th career title, will nonetheless rise to No. 2 in the world rankings next week, her career debut in the top two.

Amazingly, this was the 16th straight Grand Slam that nobody won back-to-back titles. The last person to achieve two major title runs in a row was in fact Henin, who captured the 2003 U.S. Open and the 2004 Australian Open.

Henin's 36th career title gained her $1.4 million, while Kuznetsova netted $700

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