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.”

Archive for justine henin

Henin v Sharapova as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Women’s quarter-finals result:

J HENIN (Bel) v M SHARAPOVA (Rus)

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.

FIRST SET

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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Henin v Schiavone as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Women’s third-round result

J HENIN (Bel) v F SCHIAVONE (Ita)

7-5 6-4

By Piers Newbery

Second set:

Henin 6-4 Schiavone
Top seed Henin opens with a woeful double fault and a forehand shank that goes several feet long, just about summing up her day. Another error hands Schiavone two break points but Henin finds a decent serve and then wins a lengthy rally by scrambling over a cross-court slice.

Pretty desperate stuff but she earns a first match point and takes it with a smash. A victory but plenty of work still to do for the former champion.

Henin 5-4 Schiavone
Henin has a sight of victory at 15-30 up but she cannot step up her game today and Schiavone keeps plugging away, reeling off three points to make the Belgian serve out.

Henin 5-3 Schiavone
Just when she needs it, Henin comes up with a love game.

Henin 4-3 Schiavone
Henin just cannot put this one away. She wastes a break point and Schiavone makes her pay by sweeping a forehand winner down the line at deuce and then taking the game with a service winner.

Henin 4-2 Schiavone
A tetchy Henin smashes a ball away in frustration after an error lets Schiavone back to deuce. That’s nothing compared to the look on her face when, moments later, she guides a volley well long to drop serve.

0136: “Well, censoring it (see 0103 entry) makes it look a lot worse than it actually was! and the ‘x’ was a kiss for you piers, not part of my name…x (kiss) ;)”
From webber, oxford, via text (More BBC sensationalism, apologies. And thanks for the kiss. I think.)

0133: “Schiavone is not too bad, unfortunately we are not there to cheer her up. I still think Henin will excel. Guys is London based, wish her well.”
From Tony Odusote, London, via text

0130: “Henin is romping away with it. She’s showing the type of attacking prowess that king kevin will bring to st james park. Bring this one home.”
From jon, birmingham, via text

Henin 4-1 Schiavone
Yep, the Henin forehand is finally finding its range – two winners get her to 15-30 up and a successful challenge of a line call earns her two break points. The world number one sweeps away a backhand and that should be that.

Henin 3-1 Schiavone
A welcome love-service game see Henin ease clear of Schiavone and it looks as though the Italian’s challenge is finally fading.

Henin 2-1 Schiavone
At last, some daylight for Henin when Schiavone double faults twice in a row from 0-30. She screams something probably quite rude in Italian.

Henin 1-1 Schiavone
Phew! Another serious workout for Henin before she takes the game to 30 with a rasping forehand winner. It’s not often you hear so many cries of “Allez!” from the Belgian in a third-round match but she’s being pushed all the way here.

0120: “Schiavone’s asking some good questions and it’s probably the test that Henin wants as we get to the middle part of a Grand Slam tournament.”
BBC Sport’s Chris Bailey on 5Live

Henin 0-1 Schiavone
A beautiful forehand winner down the line signals the fact that Schiavone is not about to give up and she holds to 15. Maybe it’s because she’s a Londoner…

First set:

Henin 7-5 Schiavone
Another battling game from both players and Henin again has to lunge for a volley to set up her first set point at 40-30. The world number one takes it with another volley on the stretch.

Henin 6-5 Schiavone
Schiavone dominates with her forehand, sending Henin scurrying around behind the baseline to get to 40-30, but Henin finds a couple of big returns and at break point she wallops a forehand to break again.

0103: “Goodness vaidisova’s not bad is she? it’s the early hours….. [CENSORED, ED]”
From x webber, oxford, via text (Agreed, she’s a fine player)

Henin 5-5 Schiavone
Mamma Mia! As Schiavone surely muttered to herself when Henin dumped a high backhand volley into the net at 15-30. Two break points for the Italian and she takes the initiative, moving to the net and forcing an error from Henin, who is struggling at the moment.

0055: “i’m rooting for henin. You’ve surely jinxed it for schiavone now!”
From anon via text

Henin 5-4 Schiavone
Schiavone has clearly picked up the British sporting style from her time in London – she’s plucky and probably going to lose. The Italian does well to hold serve and force Henin to serve out – not a foregone conclusion the way the Belgian is playing.

0049: “I was gonna support the Italian, but my predictive text likes Henin better so I’ll support her… This seems a good way to choose.”
From Gaz, Oxford, via text

Henin 5-3 Schiavone
At 0-30, Henin comes up with the first ace of the day and goes on to hold. Meanwhile, Ai Sugiyama drops the opening set against Nicole Vaidisova. I interviewed Sugiyama at Eastbourne a couple of years ago and a nicer person you could not wish to meet. I interviewed Vaidisova last year too. She’s nice in a different way.

Henin 4-3 Schiavone
Schiavone hangs on by holding to 30 and is showing the grit and determination of a true cockney (see 0007 entry).

Henin 4-2 Schiavone
The second point of the game is a belter, with both players having their moments before Henin takes control with a lunging volley and finishes it off for 30-0. The Belgian is having to work for everything and we get the first fist pump of the day when she wins another lengthy exchange on her way to consolidating the break of serve.

Henin 3-2 Schiavone
Henin ups the intensity of her returns considerably and breaks again when Schiavone sends one flying into the stands off the frame.

Henin 2-2 Schiavone
Henin’s serving has not been up to scratch so far in Melbourne and she’s quickly 15-40 down. Schiavone wastes the first break point with a poor return but dominates the following rally to force an error and we’re all square again. Didn’t see that coming.

And thank you James (see below), that’s exactly the sort of incisive analysis we’re after.

0030: “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Interrupting cow.” “Interrupting co…” “Moo!”
From James, Southampton, via text

Henin 2-1 Schiavone
At 30-30, Henin gets a bit of luck with a net-cord on an attempted forehand pass and she breaks on the next point. Worrying signs for Schiavone as the Belgian hasn’t really got going yet.

Henin 1-1 Schiavone
Schiavone – sporting a white and pink number with a white headband, fashion fans – opens up with a forehand winner but Henin responds with a cross-court backhand winner. The Belgian comes through to 30. And she’s wearing her usual adidas stuff.

Henin 0-1 Schiavone
A couple of dodgy Henin forehands and a wayward backhand help Schiavone to 40-15 and the Italian then darts to the net, punches a volley deep and then thumps away the attempted lob. Good stuff.

0013: Schiavone loses the toss and Henin elects to receive. Blimey, it looks hot.

0007: Morning all, and what better way to usher in another January day than by watching everyone’s favourite diminutive Belgian thump beautiful backhands in the Melbourne sunshine.

To say that world number one Henin is the favourite for this one would be an understatement as she has a 6-0 career record against the 27-year-old Schiavone.

And the Italian is smaller than Henin, so she can’t even bank on a power advantage.

Still, she lives in London so we will brazenly claim Schiavone as one of our own for the night and hope for her sake that she doesn’t follow the example of her ‘fellow’ Brits.

Story from BBC SPORT

Henin v Kuznetsova as it happened

Flushing Meadows, New York, 27 August-9 September

US Open, Flushing Meadows Final result:

J HENIN (Bel) bt S KUZNETSOVA (Rus)

6-1 6-3

By Piers Newbery

First set:

0246: That’s your lot for this evening, not the most thrilling of finals but Henin did play magnificently, as she did against Serena and Venus. Well worth a second US Open title. Join me tomorrow at around 2100 BST for Federer v Djokovic. Goodnight/morning.

Henin 6-3 Kuznetsova
Any sign of nerves from Henin? Oh yes. She smacks an ace on the first point. A fan shouts out just as she is about to serve on the second point and she goes on to double fault for 15-15. Another double fault follows, and that really gets the crowd going. Kuznetsova moves into the net and puts away a volley for 15-40. Henin finds an ace for 30-40 before Kuznetsova falters in a lengthy rally and it’s deuce. Double fault number three follows and it’s break point number three for Kuznetsova, but she shanks a forehand way long.

This time Kuznetsova sends a backhand long and it’s championship point for Henin….. and she takes it in a bizarre rally with a lob volley.

Henin 5-3 Kuznetsova
As usual, Kuznetsova moves 30-0 clear on her serve, but this time she manages to see it through for a love game.

0233: “As from monday they r going 2 b ranked 1 and 2 in the world… u wouldnt believe it right now.”
From John, Scotland, via text

Henin 5-2 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova wins the point of the match for 15-15 but it does her little good as Henin takes the game with a superb volley. The Belgian turns and looks to her players’ box, pumping her fist, and she knows that victory is almost hers.

Henin 4-2 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova wins the first two points but Henin soon levels with a blistering forehand down the line. Kuznetsova comes through and the crowd gets behind her. A bit.

Henin 4-1 Kuznetsova
Aaaargh. Henin pushes a backhand volley long to give Kuznetsova two break-back points but the Russian misses with two forehands. Henin responds with an ace and a smash, and victory is not far away now.

Henin 3-1 Kuznetsova
Henin plays one magical backhand return winner, constructs a clever rally to finish at the net, and thumps a forehand return to recover from 40-0 down and get a break point. Kuznetsova saves it thanks to a correct Hawkeye challenge (according to 5live’s David Law she has the best record of challenges in the tournament – good stat). The Russian saves two more break points but cannot hold off Henin on the third.

Henin 2-1 Kuznetsova
Blimey, some fantastic stuff from Henin who takes the game with a huge forehand. Playing like this, I’d fancy her to get through a few rounds in the men’s event. She could definitely get into the Great Britain Davis Cup squad but that’s another story.

Henin 1-1 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova stuns everyone by moving to 40-0 and when Henin misses the return, the crowd gets mildly hysterical. I’m not sure there wasn’t a fair bit of irony in that cheering but she’ll take it.

0203: “Svetlana is putting the ‘net’ in Kuznetsova. Bring back Davenport & Mauresmo! Finals like this are bad for the womens game.”
From Tarryn in Waterloo via text

Henin 1-0 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova makes a better fist of things as the second set starts and gets to deuce, with the help of another couple of Henin double faults. Kuznetsova bosses the rally but refuses to move forward and finish the point, and in the end sticks a backhand into the net. The next backhand doesn’t even make it into the tram lines.

0201: “Evenin! So far so good. Hope Henin’s annoyingly poor serve doesn’t ruin things! Thanks for commentary…”
From Ru via text on 81111 (Not at all)

First set:

0155: “There was no sign of nerves really from Justine Henin – just a good, solid set of tennis, and she really wants that seventh Grand Slam title.”
Wendy Turnbull on BBC Radio 5live

Henin 6-1 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova challenges a line call early on but, like everything else today, it doesn’t go her way. She dumps a forehand into the net to slip down a set point but saves it with a heavy serve. A second chance comes Henin’s way and this time Kuznetsova nets a backhand. Henin wraps up the set in 33 minutes.

Henin 5-1 Kuznetsova
Henin comes up with a much better service game than her last effort and wins it easily.

Henin 4-1 Kuznetsova
That’s more like it from Kuznetsova, who opens with huge winners off the forehand and then backhand. Two errors then follow from the Russian but she makes amends with a decent volley and finally gets on the scoreboard with a service winner. She looks exhausted.

Henin 4-0 Kuznetsova
Henin double faults twice in a row and the crowd gasps as though she’s just sworn at a ball girl. Kuznetsova lets her off the hook at 15-30 up with a wild forehand but Henin then nets a backhand and it’s break point. No problem for the Belgian, who hammers away a forehand. Kuznetsova wins a fine rally moments later with a forehand down the line and gives it a bit of fist pump but Henin holds with a second-serve ace.

Henin 3-0 Kuznetsova
Henin chips and charges on the first point and takes it with a sharp volley – really fantastic, attacking tennis from her at the moment. Kuznetsova responds with a big serve and a fine backhand volley of her own before Henin makes it 30-30 with a stunning cross-court forehand. At deuce, Kuznetsova is caught in no-man’s/woman’s land and jabs a volley wide, and Henin bullies the next point with a backhand-forehand one-two combination.

Henin 2-0 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova does some impressive scrambling as Henin bosses things from the net but to no avail, and the world number one takes the game to 15 with an amazing forehand winner down the line.

Henin 1-0 Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova is prone to the odd bout of nerves, as anyone who endured her semi-final will know, and an immediate hold of serve would be a big boost. Unfortunately for her, Henin starts off in a similar mood to that which saw off Serena and Venus, finishing a stunning rally at 30-30 with an audacious drop shot. Kuznetsova then goes for too much with a forehand and it’s a break for the Belgian.

0112: The players come out onto Arthur Ashe Stadium to a healthy round of applause.

0110: It’s time for the women’s final and we have the 2003 champion, Henin, up against the 2004 champion, Kuznetsova.

Rather surprisingly, I’d say, we also have the two women who will be top of the rankings after this weekend, as Kuznetsova is set to rise to a career-high number two.

She will need the confidence boost as Henin has a 14-2 record against the Russian, although Kuznetsova did win their last match earlier this year on clay in Berlin.

Story from BBC SPORT

Henin v Venus as it happened

Flushing Meadows, New York, 27 August-9 September

US Open, Flushing Meadows Semi-final result:

J HENIN (Bel) bt V WILLIAMS (USA)

7-6 (7-2) 6-4

By Piers Newbery

 

 

Second set:

Henin 6-4 Venus
It’s over! Venus sends a forehand well long on Henin’s first match point and the Belgian looks overjoyed – she’s beaten Serena and Venus in successive matches and it doesn’t get any tougher than that.

Henin 5-4 Venus
You may have thought it was all over but it isn’t now. Venus gets a break point and converts with the help of a huge return and a thumping drive volley. Unfortunately, Brit Dan Evans has gone out of the boys’ singles to Matteo Trevisan.

Henin 5-3 Venus
Venus has the trainer on at the changeover and gets her pulse taken, rather worryingly. She doesn’t take a timeout, though, and comes out to serve, but Henin takes control early and moves 0-30 in front. Venus then goes close with a forehand and challenges but it’s well wide and three break points for the Belgian. Two sloppy returns follow but a tired looking Venus sends a backhand long and that could be curtains.

2256: “This is incredible. I’m a great fan of women’s tennis, above the steam-train of the men’s game, but the power & precision here is very impressive… let alone some of those rallies!”
From Wot Kuyt ‘e did on 606

Henin 4-3 Venus
The Venus backhand is on fire. Not literally, obviously, but she gets to 0-40 and three break points with a spectacular winner. Henin saves the first with a decent serve but Venus then makes three unforced errors to hand back the initiative. Janet Jackson looks impassive in the players’ box.

Henin 3-3 Venus
Well, well. Well. Venus gets back on level terms after Henin battles back from 40-15 down to deuce in another pulsating game. Meanwhile, Brit junior Dan Evans is deep into the first set of his boys’ quarter-final against Italian third seed Matteo Trevisan. And Pat Cash is walloping Henri Leconte on Grandstand Court. It’s all go.

Henin 3-2 Venus
Henin plays a wonderful lob volley and a fizzing cross-court backhand winner but she is caught out when serve-volleying on game point and soon finds herself break-point down. Venus hammers a backhand down the line and it’s back on serve.

Henin 3-1 Venus
Venus is getting no respite at all as Henin attacks off the return at every opportunity, and the American does brilliantly to hold on from deuce under serious pressure.

Henin 3-0 Venus
Henin holds to 15 and all of a sudden she is in complete control.

Henin 2-0 Venus
Undertsandably, the intensity has dropped and it’s not helping Venus who lets a 40-15 lead disappear. Henin then steps up a gear with a magnificent point, battling her way to the net before producing the deftest of half-volley drop shots. She then breaks with a forehand pass that leaves Venus stranded at the net – fantastic play from the world number one.

Henin 1-0 Venus
After all that excitement there is a hush on Arthur Ashe Stadium as Henin holds to 15 in the first game of the set, and jogs back to her chair.

2218: “Venus is not a very good advert for her clothing line….she’s pulling at those uber short shorts more than Rafa does.”
From paleochora on 606

2216: Henin has nipped off for a ‘comfort break’.

First set:

Henin 7-6 (7-2) Venus
Absolutely bloomin’ marvellous. It doesn’t get better than that set of tennis, which lasts exactly one hour. The quality from both players remains incredible in the tie-break but Henin dominates, opening with a forehand winner down the line, finding one beautiful angled volley and moving 4-2 clear with an ace out wide. She does not look back from there and seals the set with a winning return.

Henin 6-6 Venus
A couple of searing forehand passes see Henin move 30-15 up before she double faults. The Belgian eventually takes the next point with a volley but is finding it incredibly difficult to get the ball past Venus at the moment. Venus challenges a call on the next point but is unsuccessful and it’s a tie-break.

2134: “Wow – they’ve taken all the missing energy from the chak/kuz semi and poured it into this one. This is full on.”
From tenisx on 606

Henin 5-6 Venus
The most ridiculous, and brilliant, point of the match kicks off the game. Henin comes to the net and withstands a barrage of fierce hitting from Venus before the American finally gets past her. The crowd are on their feet for that one. Venus then hits two double faults as everyone gets their breath back and we’re soon at deuce again. Venus appears to have won the game before the umpire decides a point should be replayed, although Hawkeye isn’t called for, but the elder Williams sister stands firm and takes the lead.

Henin 5-5 Venus
Henin earns two set points at 40-15 but Venus picks up a short volley and puts away a cross-court backhand, before finding a forehand winner to level at deuce. Henin misses a backhand on her third set point and then puts another well long – it’s break point Venus. Henin’s forehand fails again and the crowd goes wild as their woman levels things up.

Henin 5-4 Venus
The game opens with the best rally so far as Henin scrambles to stay in it before firing a forehand cross-court past Venus at the net – although the American may have left it. A Venus error follows and it’s 0-30 but she fights back well with a big serve and a lunging backhand volley on her way to holding.

Henin 5-3 Venus
A very solid service game from Henin keeps the world number one a break up and Venus is not making much impression on the return at the moment.

Henin 4-3 Venus
Henin deals fantastically with a towering defensive lob from Venus that bounces just inside the baseline, smacking it away cross-court without a second thought, but a backhand error on the next point gives Venus the game.

Henin 4-2 Venus
Both players are prepared to get to the net, with Venus squeezing a volley just wide on the opening point before Henin holds comfortably.

2134: Just seen the order of play for tomorrow – we’ve got NoDjo v Ferrer at 5pm UK time, Fed against N-Dav at 8pm and the women’s final at 1am. It’s going to be a long, emotional night.

Henin 3-2 Venus
This time it’s Venus who wobbles with a double fault but at 30-30 she finds a big first serve and gets out of trouble. It’s tense stuff now, which is a welcome relief after the earlier semi-final. Meanwhile, feel free to join the tennis/fashion debate on 606 or via text on 81111 . We’re getting far too many texts on rugby at the moment, in which France are flirting with defeat.

Henin 3-1 Venus
The first sign of weakness from Henin comes with a double fault at 15-15 but Venus cannot punish her, making an error on the following point. Henin sticks away a mid-court forehand to go to 40-30 and a Venus error hands the Belgian the game.

Henin 2-1 Venus
Venus does well to get off the mark with a thumping serve and a couple of Henin returns that go long.

Henin 2-0 Venus
It’s an awesome start from Henin, who holds to love and looks incredibly focused. Incidentally, fashion fans, Henin is wearing her usual red and white attire with a white cap, while Venus has gone back to the lilac number from earlier in the tournament.

2116: “Already, the first game in the second semi is so much better in quality than the entire first semi! Henin breaks….”
From mikesiva on 606

Henin 1-0 Venus
It’s a slow start from Venus who slips to 15-40 with three errors. She saves the first with a decent serve but Henin climbs all over a Venus second serve on the next and whacks a forehand return for a winner. A great shot.

2111: This should be a cracker – and Venus is clearly excited as she’s gone for a bathroom break after the knock-up. Henin looks less than impressed.

2108: It’s time for the big one – can Venus gain revenge for her sister Serena and knock out the world number one, Henin?

The head-to-head record is, frankly, pretty useless as a guide. Venus has an extraordinary 7-1 lead but they have not played since January, 2003.

Both players have looked in superb form in New York, with Henin yet to drop a set and Venus bursting with confidence following her win at Wimbledon.

And after Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Anna Chakvetadze in the earlier semi-final, there’s not much doubt that the winner here will be a big favourite for Saturday’s final.

Story from BBC SPORT

Henin vs Bartoli as it happened

Wimbledon semi-final result: J HENIN (Bel) 1 v M BARTOLI (Fra) 18

6-1 5-7 1-6

THIRD SET

Henin 6-1 5-7 1-6 Bartoli
And that’s it! Henin throws in the towel with a couple of rubbish returns and Bartoli sinks to her knees in absolutely stunned delight after holding to love. The Frenchwoman does her best to look calm and collected but the wobbly chin and wobbly knees betray her. Justine Henin scoots off Centre Court in a hurry, Bartoli stays to soak up the standing ovation having decked herself out in her player’s badge – an indication of just how big a shock it is for this relative unknown to dump out the favourite in the semi-final. To quote David Coleman….eeerrrr, quite remarkable!

Henin 6-1 5-7 1-5 Bartoli
Henin interrupts the losing streak and it’s the first sign of nerves and tension from Bartoli as she fires into the net a couple of times on her way to a loss to 15. She has four other games to get it right, though…

“Either way, whether Bartoli wins of Henin makes a remarkable comeback, this will go down as an unbelievable match.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 5-7 0-5 Bartoli
Make that seven games on the trot! Henin gets her backhand ticking again with a couple of passing winners to draw back to 30-40, but Bartoli keeps up the pressure and holds to put her on the brink of the upset of the year. Henin looks bemused, but then so does Bartoli to be fair.

Henin 6-1 5-7 0-4 Bartoli
And it’s six games in a row for Bartoli and a double break in the decider! Henin crumbles in the face of yet more unbelievable accuracy and power from the Frenchwoman and sends a forehand long to lose the game to 15.

“You talk about players being ‘in the zone’, well Bartoli is a fully paid up member right now.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 5-7 0-3 Bartoli
The Bartoli fist-pump, which is far more threatening than Tim Henman’s girly swish, is out in full force with the Frenchwoman producing some quite remarkable tennis on Centre Court. It may be her first Grand Slam semi, but she is playing like a seasoned pro against a stunned Henin out there. Even when Henin forces two break points Bartoli plums the depths of her tenacity and saves the longest game of the match with some stunning resistance. Is there a way back for Henin? I’ll be honest, those of us hoping for some semblance of a Friday night out wouldn’t mind if there wasn’t…

Henin 6-1 5-7 0-2 Bartoli
Unbelievably, Henin looks like she is suffering from a crisis in confidence at the moment. Bartoli’s all-or-nothing approach is paying dividends and she brings up yet another break point with a tenacious volleyed winner at the net. It’s all the opening she needs as she slams a brilliant backhand down the line and Centre Court is looking on in disbelief…

“Are we witnessing what would be one almighty shock developing here? I’ve seen Bartoli play many times before, but never at such a high level as this.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 5-7 0-1 Bartoli
Bartoli is certainly not going to do this the easy way if she wins through to the final, as she is forced to save two break points for the second service game running. She does just that, though, and a couple of Henin errors hand the game to her on a plate after that.

SECOND SET

Henin 6-1 5-7 Bartoli
Unbelievable from Bartoli, who takes this semi-final into a decider with some brilliant groundstrokes on her way to a love game on the Henin serve. Henin’s own game crumbled there and she will have to get back on track fast if she is to keep her bid for a first Wimbledon title on track here.

Henin 6-1 5-6 Bartoli
Sacre bleu! Henin secures two break points out of nowhere but Bartoli focuses and forces the errors that bring her back to deuce. A massive serve out wide brings the Frenchwoman game point and Henin can do nothing about a low bounce on the next point. We could be looking at a tie-break here and who knows what after that…

“Huge credit has to go to Bartoli. There were several moments in this set that she could have crumbled and disappeared, but she has dug deep and is treating the crowd to some fantastic strokeplay.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 5-5 Bartoli
Bartoli moves to 30-0 up with a couple of fantastic forehand winners down the line, but Henin somehow battles back to game point with blistering efforts of her own. Bartoli forces the error again to move to deuce but Henin digs deep into her see out the game and keep herself in the set.

Henin 6-1 4-5 Bartoli
Fabulous work again from Bartoli, who holds to 15 with some brilliant winners. She has Henin dashing all over the court and seals it when the Belgian can only find the net with a forehand.

Henin 6-1 4-4 Bartoli
She’s nothing if not a fighter, Bartoli! All of a sudden, Henin’s accuracy abandons her and a couple of unforced errors hand Bartoli break point. The Frenchwoman clinches it with a fabulous crosscourt backhand winner and we’re back on serve again.

Henin 6-1 4-3 Bartoli
Oh dear – just when you thought Bartoli was making a match of this, Henin finds her range brilliantly on her passing strokes and breaks to 15. The Belgian’s coach, Carlos Rodrigues, has his kids in the crowd, but they are less concerned with cheering on Henin than they are watching a film on a portable DVD player. “Anything that keeps them quiet” says the rather unsympathetic Tracy Austin.

“Awesome strokeplay from Henin there, who has gone up a gear just when she needed to.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 3-3 Bartoli
Rather cruelly, picture desk Jez has suggested Henin resembles the Wicked Wicket of the West from the Wizard of Oz film (I’m thinking more that mouse thing in American Tail), but the Belgian is hardly casting a spell (geddit?) over Bartoli at the moment. Whereas she had Bartoli struggling to make any returns earlier in the match, Henin is now having to battle just to hang onto her own serve. She is helped by a beautiful drop-shot at the net and holds to 30 with a backhand winner, but it’s certainly not all one-way traffic anymore.

Henin 6-1 2-3 Bartoli
A topsy-turvy game sees Bartoli stroll to 40-15 up with more punishing passing strokes, but Henin greets a backhand down the line of her own with “ooh that’s a good thing ya”, and Bartoli sends a forehand long to bring it back to deuce. Two crunching Henin forehands see her break back and you wonder if the pendulum has swung back towards the Belgian.

Henin 6-1 1-3 Bartoli
Well well well, more signs that the Bartoli groundstrokes are causing Henin problems as the Frenchwoman drills her way to 40-15 up on her opponent’s serve again. Frustratingly she sends a couple of returns into the net to see them slip away but she earns another break point with a bludgeoned backhand and Henin sends a return long to hand the Frenchwoman the game.

“Bartoli is looking so much better than she did 10 minutes ago, she’s barely recognisable.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 1-2 Bartoli
And the 18th seed backs up her first break with an impressive hold to 15, finding a succession of impressive groundstrokes that bring her old man in the crowd to his feet.

Henin 6-1 1-1 Bartoli
Bartoli’s two-handed approach on both sides – apparently pressed upon her by her doctor-come-tennis coach father – is receiving a bit of a lambasting from Barry Davies and Tracy Austin in the comm box but, when she gets it right, it’s a formidable weapon. Twice she has Henin scrambling unsuccessfully across the court and she brings up two break points with another stinging backhand. Henin saves both, the second with a sublime drop-shot volley, but Bartoli wins through following another brilliant exchange at the net. Game on?

“The crowd are certainly appreciating the effort being put in by Bartoli. They’re rooting for the Frenchwoman to make a contest of this.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 6-1 1-0 Bartoli
You can almost hear the sympathetic cringes written across the crowd’s faces as Bartoli mixes the sublime with the ridiculous. The Frenchwoman comes out best from an exchange at the net, but can only watch as a couple of short passing efforts are whipped back past her feet by the number one seed. Another brilliant backhand pass down the line seals the game for Henin and it’s another early break.

FIRST SET

Henin 6-1 Bartoli
Easy does it for Henin, who takes the set with a love service game and, even though she looks likely to miss Shaun the Sheep – which will undoubtedly devastate her – she should be done before the News at 1800. So just in time to watch herself hit the headlines, then. Nice.

Henin 5-1 Bartoli
I can’t profess to have seen Bartoli in action a huge amount, but she is a regular old jitterbug out on Centre Court. I can’t tell if it’s excitement, the nerves or she has a set of earpieces tuned into Dance FM, but it’s doing her no favours as she lets a 30-0 lead slip to hand Henin another break. Two magnificent backhand winners suggest Henin is finding her rhythm.

“Henin is looking even more relaxed now. You get the feeling that Bartoli needed to get her nose ahead as early as possible in this match to stand any chance, but now Henin might just steam-roller her.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 4-1 Bartoli
A couple of superb passing strokes put Henin 30-0 up, but Bartoli finds a forehand return winner of her own to reduce her deficit before an Henin double fault makes it 30-30. Henin holds her nerve, and her serve, in the swirling wind though to keep her nose in front.

Henin 3-1 Bartoli
None of this sports drink and water nonsense for Henin in the mid-game break, the Belgian chomping into a slab of chewy sweet and supping on a chocolate drink – this is sports professionalism Rab C Nesbit style. It doesn’t do the trick this time around, though, as Bartoli gets her serve going nicely in holding to 30 – crucial hold that, you feel.

Henin 3-0 Bartoli
Bartoli finds a nice backhand down the line on the run to help settle her nerves, but Henin goes on to hold to 30, sealing the game with a service winner.

Henin 2-0 Bartoli
With the wind really kicking up, Bartoli’s hair flailing in the wind like a cheap shampoo advert, you really feel for the players trying to keep control on their serve. And it’s a tough old start for Bartoli, who sends a couple of groundstrokes long either side of a Henin forehand winner, and the Belgian breaks to love.

“Just get the feeling that the longer these points go on, the more likely it is that Henin will win them. She’s a much better mover, a much better athlete and she’s got all the shots.”
BBC Sport pundit Tracy Austin

Henin 1-0 Bartoli
After the shortest warm-up ever, Henin kicks things off with a typically ruthless opening service game, holding to 15 without Bartoli managing to get much of a racket on any of her serves.

1709 BST: Justine Henin, sporting the smallest ears in showbiz, looks so relaxed coming out onto court she could just have stepped out of the Jacuzzi and helped herself to a choc ice in SW19. Bartoli, on the other hand, looks like a wigwam and a teepee – two tents. Ba dom boom boom. Sorry… it’s been a long day…

1706 BST: Let’s have a look at the formbook – these two have met just twice before, with Henin coming through in straight sets on both occasions. Henin, who has dropped just one set all tournament, has played under five and a half hours of tennis to reach this stage – it is fair to day only Serena taxed her.

Bartoli, the daughter of a doctor (though not moi, Doctor Love, of course) has also enjoyed a reasonably safe passage through the quarter-finals, dropping just two sets. Still, if you are anything like the vast majority of the office here – picture desk Jez aside – you’ll be expecting Henin to finish off the Frenchwoman, possibly even in time for “Shaun the Sheep” on BBC2. Which, as if you didn’t all know, is on at 1735 BST.

1700 BST: What a day to have had tickets on Centre Court huh? Nadal-Berdych, Federer-Ferrero, Venus Williams-Ivanovic (spontaneous dribble) and now Justine Henin against Marion Bartoli. Witnessing that lot live in SW19 could surely have only been bettered than being stuck at work on a Friday and having to read some random’s drivel all day on the interwobble. For that, you are welcome people!

Henin v Serena as it happened

All England Club, 25 June-8 July

Wimbledon quarter-final result:

J HENIN (Bel) 1 v S WILLIAMS (US) 7

6-4 3-6 6-3

THIRD SET

Henin 6-3 Serena
She can! She misses the world’s easiest volley at match point, sets up another as Serena puts a forehand into the net and then raises her arms in celebration as Serena’s next return flies long. The crowd rise to her – they’re delighted with that result – and Henin is through to a semi-final meeting with Marion Bartoli. Pheeew. Tremendous match…

Henin 5-3 Serena
Serena is coming back like Ali in Kinshasa – she belts down a 120mph serve and follows it up with two stinging forehand winners. Every point won is now followed by that trademark “COME ORRRNNN!” Can Henin hold in the face of this hurricane?

Henin 5-2 Serena
Plenty, that’s what – with dark clouds looming overhead, Henin wobbles with a double fault and is then blown away by a screaming Serena storm. Richard Williams is on his feet again. Henin stares at the grass. Serena marches on.

Henin 5-1 Serena
Serena, screaming like a peacock under attack from a hungry fox, goes wide with a forehand and then stoops to plonk a backhand volley into the net. She’s broken again, and is staring into the abyss – what’s left in the Serena suitcase?

This just in from Venus’s press conference: “Last time I checked, Serena’s injury was genuine. She has proved to be the ultimate sportsperson and anyone who doesn’t know that is ignorant.”

Henin 4-1 Serena
She’s ever closer now, leaning on her cannon of a forehand to extend her lead back to three games. Coach Carlos has his two children with him, and they’re jumping all over the place. He sshhhhs them sternly as Richard Williams looks up hopefully for rain clouds.

Henin 3-1 Serena
Serena’s now looking at her strapped left wrist and complaining loudly to anyone who’ll listen. She holds to 15, but Henin is holding all the decent cards at the moment. The sun has disappeared, but the crowd don’t care – they’re going to cheer Henin all the way home.

Henin 3-0 Serena
Huge cheers from the partisan crowd as Henin survives a mouthful of butterflies at deuce to extend her lead. Coach Carlos is now openly coaching from the VIP box – either that or he’s got persistant ants in his tennis pants.

Henin 2-0 Serena
The balance of power swings again – Henin is now coming to the net with happy abandon, and she forces two more errors from the frowing, yelling Serena to steal a vital break. Bottoms shift closer to the edge of seats here on Centre.

Henin 1-0 Serena
Wobbles from Justine as she double-faults to go to 15-30, Serena moving closer and closer in for her returns until she’s looming as threateningly as the thunderclouds at lunchtime. Henin then grits her teeth and cranks the serve up a level to edge in front. Nervy times here on Centre.

SECOND SET

Henin 3-6 Serena
What drama – Serena holds her serve from deuce when she appeals to Hawk-Eye over a first serve called out and gets the electronic nod. We’re a set all – sack off your tea/homework/washing-up for a wee while, cos this is getting as spicy as a three-day-old chicken phaal.

Henin 3-5 Serena
..and then back comes Serena with her own ripping response, forcing Henin into two forehand errors and celebrating like an X-Factor winner when she snatches back the break.

Henin 3-4 Serena
Sensational from Henin – Serena’s barely got used to the idea of being a break up when she has one of her own ripped out of her grasp, squeezed out of the points with dead-eyed determination by the battling Belgian. The crowd loved that – no question that they’re bang behind Henin here.

Henin 2-4 Serena
Gasps of astonishment as Henin, facing her first break point, smashes a simple forehand miles long. Serena has her break, and she’s still moving as easily as a well-fed leopard.This was the chat from Richard Williams before this match: “The doctor has told Serena not to play and I’ve told her too – her fitness is not anywhere near 100%.” Pick the medical bones out of that one.

Henin 2-3 Serena
Oohs from the crowd – at 30-30, Henin is eyeing a break, only to pop a straightforward backhand volley into the net. She clutches her head in her hands, the equivalent of a normal player taking all her clothes off and running around screaming. Rattled, she glugs on a bottle of chocolate milkshake at the changoever and rubs her complementary Wimbledon towel over her furrowed brow.

Henin 2-2 Serena
Serena dashes her racquet to the turf as she duffs an off-balance backhand onto the tape. Henin barely glances up, motoring through her service game with the calm of a sleeping Buddhist monk.

Henin 1-2 Serena
Serena’s got a decent strop on now, rebel-yelling a furious “COME ONNN!” as she puts away a forehand to hold again. Didn’t go down at all well with the crowd, that shot – murmurs of disapproval from the sticklers for old-fashioned manners.

Henin 1-1 Serena
Henin serves bang onto the back line of the service box, Serena can only loft it back and Henin sends a leaping forehand whistling into the corner for a clean winner. The wind’s still gusting up here – it’s not a day for eating meringue.

Henin 0-1 Serena
Just the start Serena wanted, holding to 15 with more of those clumping groundstrokes. She’s reached for her grunt at the changeover, too – it was a key weapon for Venus earlier, and little sis gets hers going at double-lung volume.

FIRST SET

Henin 6-4 Serena
..and she’ll take it too, coming to the net behind a forehand right onto the line and punching away the resultant volley. Serena’s shoulders slump – she just let things drop a fraction in half a game, and the Belgian pounced. Richard Williams toys anxiously with the handle of his umbrella.

Henin 5-4 Serena
Which idiot mentioned a tie-break? Henin, ah, breaks Serena to 15, lofting a backhand volley over the stretching Serena on the first break point of the match. She looks up at coach Carlos Rodríguez and gives him the clenched-fist salute. She’ll serve for the set now…

Henin 4-4 Serena
It’s got tie-break written all over it, this one. Henin holds again, belting in a fizzer of a forehand and watching as Serena frames her return into the stratosphere.

Henin 3-4 Serena
Wallop – Serena creams a forehand cross-court, and Henin has no answer. Not even a sniff of a break so far, just two heavyweights battering each other furiously to the delight of the crowd. Blue skies and sun up above – get your party hats on.

Henin 3-3 Serena
Rock-solid serving from Justine, pummeling Serena into submission and scampering in to pass her when the inevitable drop-shot makes an appearance. I’m not knocking Serena’s notebook – I have one of my own which I keep open by my keyboard, containing such phrases as “You ARE somebody!” “Caroline Cheese is a nobody!” and “Type! Type! Type!”

Henin 2-3 Serena
“Fascinating duel!” says a rapt Sue Barker, and who am I to disagree? Serena comes to the net to pass Henin on her backhand, and she’s moving as well as Wayne Sleep at the moment. No sign of that notebook she was reading from the other night – the one filled with handwritten motivation slogans like “You’re #1!” “Turn and move!” and “You’re gonna win Wimbledon!”

Henin 2-2 Serena
Henin matches Serena’s shout with an “Allez!” of her own as a big forehand wrong-foots the prowling Serena. Lots of wind here on Centre Court, which is causing problems with Serena’s floaty dress. Where’s a tub of starch when you need one?

Henin 1-2 Serena
A brisk “Come on!” from Serena as another cheeky drop-shot and booming forehand keep Henin at bay. Henin bounces over to her chair and rips open a large energy bar, tucking away three decent mouthfuls before the umpire calls time.

Henin 1-1 Serena
Serena dinks in a drop-shot to put a small cat amongst the pigeons, but Henin cracks two vicious forehands onto the baseline to level things up. Licking of lips in the crowd – they know a tasty contest when they see one.

Henin 0-1 Serena
Super start to proceedings – Serena comes thundering in to a drop-shot and clouts her forehand straight at Henin’s throat. The ball thumps against the Belgian, who to her credit only flinches slightly, and flies off towards Croydon. You can smell the animosity in the air. Or is that the gentleman to my right?

1644 BST: Right – quick gulp of water after that tasty Venus-Shara clash, and little sis Serena and Henin are with us already. Could be a belter, this one. Is Serena fit? Is she over her spasm-induced calf strain? Will her dodgy bladder strike at key points once again?
Story from BBC SPORT

Henin v Schnyder as it happened

Wimbledon fourth round result:

J HENIN (Bel) 1 v P SCHNYDER (Swi) 15

6-2 6-2

GAME-BY-GAME UPDATES:
By Tom Fordyce

SECOND SET

Henin 6-2 Schnyder
Bish-bosh – Justine holds predictably to seal the deal, and she’s into the quarters in a flash. 56 minutes, to be precise. Let’s be kind and call that match a mere aperitif for the feast ahead.

Henin 5-2 Schnyder
We won’t be long now – patsies from Patty on her serve, and she’s broken yet again. Pop the kettle on – we’ve got Serena on in a bit.

Henin 4-2 Schnyder
Patty simply has no answer to the Henin serve. She’s got as close to a break of serve as Paris Hilton has to the Booker prize.

Henin 3-2 Schnyder
Token revival from Patty, who gets her serve kicking to stay alive in the set. One boomer at the Henin body has the Belgian swaying out of the way and snicking the ball off the edge of the frame into the crowd behind her, much like Geraint Jones facing a rampant Brett Lee.

Henin 3-1 Schnyder
Henin drives a forehand cross-court to have Schnee scampering desperately, and sprints to the net to slam away the resultant volley. The crowd’s gone very quiet again, struck silent by the one-way nature of this so-called contest.

Henin 2-1 Schnyder
Further woe for the struggling Patty as Henin robs her of her serve again, battering a brutal backhand down the line to tighten the vice. Henin then takes a breather by her chair, glugging from an old water bottle filled with what looks like chocolate milkshake. Unusual choice.

Henin 1-1 Schnyder
No such problems for the number one seed, who holds to love. If you haven’t seen Schnyder in action before, she’s got long wavy hair pulled back in a ponytail, giving her a timeless look – she could time-travel into any year in tennis in the last 40 years and look completely at home.

Henin 0-1 Schnyder
Every now and then Schnee plays a shot worthy of a Wimbledon champion, only to follow it up with an effort so embarrassing it virtually blushes while sailing out. She hangs on to her serve after three dicey deuces.

FIRST SET

Henin 6-2 Schnyder
Woodward lowers his dark glasses onto his nose in the measured fashion of Arnie in Terminator, and watches emotionless as Henin polishes off the set in total comfort. Reckon this could be done within the hour?

Henin 5-2 Schnyder
Better from Schnyder, if only for a brief moment – she dinks in a delightful forehand drop-shot which Henin runs down, only to to drive her passing-shot long. Hold on – is that Clive Woodward in the Royal Box?

Henin 5-1 Schnyder
Henin, staring out unblinkingly from under the brim of her cap, holds again to move closer to the first set. Arsene Wenger’s in the crowd, smartly dressed in light grey suit and open-necked blouson.

Henin 4-1 Schnyder
Dear oh dear. Patty’s head’s all over the shop – she double-faults three times to give the break straight back, and instantly undo all the good work from the previous game. Schnyder’s husband Rainer Hofmann watches on from the VIP box, his badly-bleached hair sprouting out from underneath a tie-dye pale blue baggy flat cap. Would it surprise you to learn he works in IT?

Henin 3-1 Schnyder
That’s more like it – Schnee winds up her big forehand and snatches a break back when Henin frames a lunging volley into the net. Enthusiastic applause from the crowd, who are desperate for a ding-donger rather than a damp squib.

Henin 3-0 Schnyder
Schnyder is having an absolute schtynker – she’s broken again, this time to 15, and she walks back to her chair shaking her Swiss head in consternation.

Henin 2-0 Schnyder
Henin holds with flinty-eyed determination. Actualy, flinty doesn’t quite do it – she’s got eyes like chips of coal.

Henin 1-0 Schnyder
You’ll never guess what – the sun is shining on Centre Court! Seriously. No – really. You can take your chat about there being an 80% chance of showers and tuck it up your folded umbrella. Henin gets busy from the off, attacking the Patty serve and nabbing an early break when the Swiss belts a forehand long.
Story from BBC SPORT