Friday, March 30, 2007

Serena vs. Justine: The Wait Is Over

aka Serena vs. The Hand

by Craig Hickman

As I wrote back in January, this is the rivarly I most want to see renewed. And now, nearly two months after I posted that and nearly four years after they last played, my wish has finally come to pass.

Serena Williams will face Justine Henin for the Sony Ericsson Open title on Saturday. This is Serena's fifth time to the final. She's won it three times before. Justine, who admits to not playing well in March as it is the anniversary of her mother's death (something I can certainly relate to, having just buried my father and three other close freinds in the month of March), appears in her first final in Miami.

Serena has the edge in their career head-to-head, winning 5 of their eight meetings. Justine's 3 wins all came on clay, giving Serena the edge on this surface as well. But if Serena plays the tentative brand of tennis she displayed in the second set against Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals, and in the first set of her semifinal against Shahar Peer, the resurgent Queen who has made fools of her detractors will have her hands full.

"It's a long time that we didn't play each other," Henin told reporters. "She looks like she's healthy now and very focused on tennis.

"I really wasn't surprised the way she came back in Australia. When she's healthy and really focused she's a great champion.

"We had a couple of good fights in the past.

"I know she has a lot of motivation but I also have a lot of motivation and the best will win."

"We've had some tough matches in the past," Williams said. "Hopefully we'll have a good, honest match."

After their now infamous 2003 Roland Garros semifinal, marred by Justine's blatant cheating when she held up her hand during one of Serena's first serves and denied it when the chair umpire, who hadn't seen it, inquired with Justine about it, Serena's curt statement reverberates loudly.

But now, as then, Serena exhibits graciousness as well.

"Justine has been playing some of the best tennis on the tour," Williams said. "She's doing awesome. She made the finals of all the Grand Slams last year. This will be a real test of my game."


Game. On.


Anonymous said...

Hi Craig,

Glad to "see" you're back. Thank you and Savannah for really good posts. Serena and Canas made my days recently.
I'm very sorry about the sad news about your dad and your friends. Our friend also lost a loved one in February. Recently I'm focused on my work, not much of time for other stuff. But I enjoy reading your posts when I can.
Best regards,


Craig Hickman said...

Hi Lan,

It's good to see you too.

Serena and Canas have certainly been the highlights of this event.