Sunday, November 11, 2007

Henin wins Year-End Championships in best match of the season

Both of them were 4-0 coming into the final. Henin, the defending champion, had already had a fantastic season, and Sharapova--because of a shoulder injury and resulting bursitis--had had almost no season at all, and did not start practicing until a week before the championships. Considering how little preparation she had, it was Sharapova who astounded with a dazzling performance that eventually wilted because of physical fatigue and breathing difficulty. Her service problems abolished, she hit not only powerful groundstrokes, but also some very effective volleys--not a characteristic Sharapova strength.

This is to take nothing away from Henin, whose brilliance on the court is unsurpassed. Again having problems with her serve, Henin compensated for them with court speed, clever change-ups, and her usual array of uncanny shots.

The last game of the first set lasted 20 minutes, with Sharapova winning on her 8th break point. Anyone who thought the match was going to get tamer after that was in for a surprise. Even toward the end, when Sharapova looked like she might fall down, the quality of play was high, if not quite as high as before. The match lasted 3 hours and 24 minutes, and the diminished Sharapova fought to the end. No matter whom you wanted to win, the championship match was a joy to watch.

With this victory, Justine Henin earned $5,367, 086 this year, giving her the highest income within a year of any female athlete in history.

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