Friday, September 7, 2007

Williams and Henin redeem women's tennis--Henin moves on to the final

Anything would have been a good antidote to today's first U.S. Open women's semifinal, but we didn't get just anything--we got a top-notch thriller from world number 1 Justine Henin and Venus Williams. There was no shortage of drama: The wind was blowing rather hard, Henin was having trouble breathing, and Williams suffered from dizziness. Viewers were treated to first-rate serving from Henin, plus slices, drops shots, wicked angles, superb overheads hit on the run, and one rally with 27 shots that included over a dozen volleys. Williams had trouble with her second serve, but also put on a show of steely nerves as she dug herself out of holes with what sometimes appeared to be sheer will. At 3-5, 0-40 in the second set, she managed to hold, then broke Henin when she served for the match. It looked for all the world like there was going to be another break and we were going to get a third set, but errors starting coming off of Williams' racquet at the wrong time, and Henin held for 6-4. A third set would have been wonderful, but it was not to be.

Henin is playing so well that it is hard to imagine the final as being anything but a letdown. The extremely talented Svetlana Kuznetsova not only has trouble closing big matches--she just is not playing at Henin's level right now. Henin's service game, speed, anticipation, and shot-making are currently unsurpassed on the tour.

Final score: Henin def. Williams, 7-6, 6-4

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