Hat-trick for Henin

2007-06-09 17:15
Paris - Justine Henin joined the Roland Garros greats by defeating Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-2 on Saturday to complete a hat-trick of French Open titles.

In what was an embarrassingly one-sided 65-minute final, the 25-year-old Belgian became just the second woman in the post-1968 Open era to win three in a row after Monica Seles in 1990-92.

It was also her fourth win in five years in Paris and the sixth Grand Slam title of her career taking her past both Martina Hingis and Venus Williams. Only Serena Williams with eight titles has a better record among players still active.

All her wins in French Open finals have come in straight sets and this was no exception as the 19-year-old Ivanovic, playing in her first Grand Slam final, failed to reproduce the sparkling form that saw off Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.

"Everything went so well for me though I was tight at the start," said Henin.

"All my matches have been in straight sets and it is just majestic.

"It feels different this year because I have had some difficult moments (her divorce) this year but I have rediscovered my happiness and my family."

Ivanovic praised the Belgian.

"She's a great player and played a great match," said the Serbian teenager who admitted that nerves got the better of her when she served at 1-0, 40-0 early in the final.

"I started OK but I got nervous in the second game and my ball toss went everywhere. I had no control over it.

"You have to be a great player to beat her."

Clad in the same all-black dress with a pink horizontal stripe that had seen her win six in a row in Paris, Ivanovic did get off to an encouraging start.

She blasted a forehand winner down the line to open the final and broke Henin's serve when the Belgian double-faulted on break point.

Ivanovic then had three points at 40-0 on her own serve to go 2-0 up but she started having problems with her toss allowing Henin to get into the match and break back thanks to a soul-destroying net-cord.

Two games later and still struggling to relax, Ivanovic again had game point on her serve, but again she failed to convert it and then a double fault gave Henin a second straight break of serve to go 3-1 up.

Against a player who had won 20 matches in a row at Roland Garros, the last 16 in straight sets, that was a luxury that Ivanovic could ill afford.

Henin grabbed control of the rallies switching the play intelligently from side to side to move around her much bigger opponent.

The Belgian rattled off the next three games to take the first set 6-1 in just 34 minutes.

The agony continued for Ivanovic as she dropped her serve in the opening game of the second set and she was rapidly 2-0 down and left with a mountain to climb.

The Serb did manage to stop the rot of eight games in a row lost by winning her next service game, but two games later she was put under pressure by Henin and once again she crumbled

That left Henin 4-1 up and all but home and dry and she showed no mercy clinching her fourth French Open title on her own serve pushing away an easy volley at the net.

Henin will next go on to challenge for her first Wimbledon title to complete her Grand Slam set having also consolidated her position as the world No 1.

For Ivanovic the consolation is that she will rise to sixth in the world rankings having established herself as a genuine contender at Grand Slam tournaments.

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