Henin content with 'almost perfect' comeback

Belgian Justine Henin described her Grand Slam comeback as "almost perfect", despite falling at the final hurdle when she lost Saturday's Australian Open final to Serena Williams.
By Scott Coghlan | AFP, Melbourne
UPDATED ON JAN 30, 2010 06:28 PM IST

Belgian Justine Henin described her Grand Slam comeback as "almost perfect", despite falling at the final hurdle when she lost Saturday's Australian Open final to Serena Williams.

In her first Grand Slam since retiring in May 2008, the 27-year-old, playing courtesy of a wildcard, was attempting to emulate countrywoman Kim Clijster's feat of winning the US Open in her comeback last year.

The former world number one looked set to do exactly that when she dominated the closing stages of the second set to level the match.

However, Henin said she missed her opportunity early in the third set and Williams was able to steady to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Despite the disappointment of losing the final, the seven-times Grand Slam champion said her assessment of the fortnight was overwhelmingly positive.

"Of course disappointed, I mean, when you lose in the final of a Grand Slam, especially in three sets," she said.

"But this feeling of disappointment cannot take away all the things I've done in the last few weeks.

"And it's just more than what I could expect, I just have to remember that.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of positive things I can think about in a few days, it's been almost perfect.

"Just the last step, I couldn't make it.

"It's a mixed feeling at the moment, but in a few hours I'm sure it's going to be much better."

Henin said she still had a great deal of improvement to come, but that reaching the final justified her decision to return to the court.

"I was curious about what my level would be and how I was going to deal with just the atmosphere on and off the court, how it would feel," she said.

"I feel I took the right decision, so it's good enough for me already.

"I can be really happy about that."

Henin added that her second round win over world number five Elena Dementieva was her personal highlight of the tournament.

"When I beat Dementieva, it was a very good moment because the quality of the match was very, very good, and it was a match that I was waiting for," she said.

"It was a very good memory for me. But generally, the way I felt in the last few weeks has been fantastic.

"So I go back with only good things."

Henin won the last three games of the second set to level the match and had won 14 straight points when she took the first game of the decider to love.

However, she said the match turned when Williams was able to hold serve in the second game of the final set after a struggle.

"I had the big opportunity in the beginning of the third set, I started to play much better at the end of the second, really aggressive," she said.

"She was under pressure and she served unbelievable in that game.

"I was up 1-0 in the third, and what might have happened if I could break her at that time.

"But she's a real champion.

"She plays the right shot at the right time and she served great at that time. After that, mentally it was a little bit harder to stay in the match."

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