Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Henin v Sharapova as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Women’s quarter-finals result:


4-6 0-6

By Tom Fordyce

Henin 0-6 Sharapova
And over it is – a blitzkrieg of a match from Sharapova, battering her way to yet another break adn taking the match with another series of forehand assaults. Henin has been destroyed out there. Remarkable scenes.

Henin 0-5 Sharapova
Henin battles for a break point but is wrong-footed by a cunning Shara drive and is left splay-legged like a stumpy giraffe. She stares back at Shara with those anthracite eyes of hers, and a wave of sympathy sweeps around the Rod Laver Arena. This one looks all over.

Henin 0-4 Sharapova
Henin’s first serve is crumbling under this onslaught as Shara goes at her like an elegant wrecking-ball. A raking forehand sets up another break and a leaning-back drifter of a cross-court forehand seals the deal.

For the sartorially-minded among you, Henin is wearing a cap-sleeve white vest, burgundy skirt with white trim and her usual curved-brim cap. Maria’s gone for the short white strappy dress with matching sun-visor.

Henin 0-3 Sharapova
Another brutal breeze of a service game from Shara. Henin smiles almost ruefully as she trudges to her chair. Maria marches to hers and glugs from an enormous bottle of ruby-red squash – blood orange flavour, from the look of it.

Henin 0-2 Sharapova
Henin’s being tossed around like a rag-doll in an Alsatian’s mouth. Shara sends her scampering desperately around the court and then polishes her off with the dead-eyed aplomb of a assassin.

Henin 0-1 Sharapova
No messing around there from Shara. That forehand’s so brutal it could smash through brick walls. Scream has replaced squeak as her chosen audio accompaniment.


Henin 4-6 Sharapova
The standard’s suddenly gone through the roof, or at least the gaping hole where the roof can be. Shara forces a break point with a grunt-squeak backhand only to be dragged from side to side by a succession of sizzling forehands to go back to deuce. The best point of the match – a court-covering epic – sets up another, and this time she takes it with a wonder of a dipping backhand cross-courter. What a set. It was so good that I considered using an exclamation-mark on that last sentence. I know.

Henin 4-5 Sharapova
Big game, that one, and at 15-30 Henin has her first glimpse. Shara nets a squeaky backhand to set up the first break point on her serve, only for Henin to lash a lazy forehand into the tramlines – but a duel of drop-shots sets up another nibble, and Shara nets her backhand again. That’s the break-back.

Henin 3-5 Sharapova
Nervy, nervy hold from Henin. With her Belgian back against the wall, she wobbles at 30-30 but conjures up a delight of an overhead backhand smash-volley to keep Shara waiting.

Henin 2-5 Sharapova
No problems at all for Maria – a backhand straight off the centre of the strings polishes off any chance of a Henin break-back. Do butterflies have backbones, or exoskeletons? Disappointing to reach into the mental locker and come up short on that one.

Henin 2-4 Sharapova
Henin’s second double-fault of the battle pegs her back to deuce, and a raking cross-court backhand from Shara sets up a break point. A crunching first serve saves the day before a drop-shot as delicate as a butterfly’s backbone gets her back in front. Shara forces two more deuces before a netted forehand finally give up the game.

Henin 1-4 Sharapova
Howitzer after howitzer from the sizzling racquet of Shara. Henin can’t get a look-in at the moment, and she goes to her chair at the change-round, sinks her chin into a striped towel and peeps out at the world like a frightened dormouse.

Henin 1-3 Sharapova
The world number one is on the board at last, but it’s not without a scare – she goes 0-30 down before starting to land her first serves on the ‘T’. Little fist-pump from Henin as she pockets the game.

Henin 0-3 Sharapova
First signs of stroppiness from Henin – she’s being blown away by a Shara storm out there. Interestingly, she has a strip of black tape wrapped above and below her right knee. When her leg bends it gives the visual effect of a pair of lips opening and closing in soundless, panicked gasps.

Henin 0-2 Sharapova
Shara has come out of the traps like a ravenous greyhound. Two blistering forehands force Henin errors to set up break points, and a netted backhand slice from the Belgian gives away the game.

Henin 0-1 Sharapova
Two crunching first serves get Shara firing before a looper of second serve and thumping Henin forehand draw it level at 30-30. Shara then finds her range again with her boomers to get her nose in front.

0838: Henin wins the toss and elects to receive serve. Maria tucks a brace of balls into her pants and strides off to the baseline to loosen her languid shoulders.

0830: Here we go – a real treat to fire up your Tuesday. Who said this was the worst week of the entire year? The sun is sinking over the Rod Laver Arena as Maria and Justine stroll through the corridors and out onto the court.

In case you needed a nudge, you can also watch the action live on BBC Interactive or listen to commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra.

Story from BBC SPORT


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