Henin-Hardenne lifts US Open title
Justin Henin-Hardenne defied the laws of nature for 81 magical minutes to bring world number one Kim Clijsters to her knees and capture a first US Open crown.Updated: Sep 07, 2003 11:32 IST
Justin Henin-Hardenne defied the laws of nature for 81 magical minutes on Saturday to bring world number one Kim Clijsters to her knees and capture a first US Open crown.
That she was even able to compete in the final of the last grand slam of the year was a minor miracle in itself. That she played near-perfect tennis to win 7-5 6-1 is the stuff of folklore.
It was a performance that won the 21-year-old a cool $1 million but, to Henin-Hardenne, it was priceless.
"It is such a great feeling. I am so happy right now ... two grand slams in the same year I can't believe it," she said.
"I tell you, I am the happiest woman in the world right now. It has been a terrific two weeks."
Never mind that a representative of sponsor JP Morgan Chase blundered by asking the crowd to congratulate "Christine" Henin-Hardenne before the trophy presentation.
This victory puts her name up there with some of the sport's greatest comeback artists and installs her as world number two on Monday -- still behind Clijsters but closing fast.
It was an incredible achievement considering just hours earlier she had lain exhausted on a bed in the Flushing Meadows infirmary with an intravenous drip in her arm, suffering cramps and dehydration.
While Clijsters had been tucked up in bed on Friday night, Henin had been locked in battle with a tigerish Jennifer Capriati in a three-hour semi-final stretching into the early hours of finals day.
Such was the state of Henin-Hardenne as she limped off court to a standing ovation that there were very real fears she would not be able to take her place on court for the Super Saturday showdown.
But 21-year-old Henin-Hardenne is hewn from tougher stuff than that.
"I went to sleep at 3.45am and then I was awake at 8.30am," she said of her preparation.
"Tried to sleep a little bit more until 11.30am but it was very hard because the match was still in my mind.
"But I think the trainers and the doctors did a great job. I believed in my chances. I went on the court to win the match and it worked pretty good."
The determination she showed comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her, for her sublime God-given talent is backed by a steely temperament.
It is a temperament that steered her to beat Clijsters in the final of the French Open earlier this year and one which on Saturday made Clijsters' world number one ranking appear little more than an arithmetical error.
First Published: Sep 07, 2003 11:32 IST