Quotable Quotes: GAME. ON.

Q. The last time you played in ’08 during the Australian Open, it was not good memories. There was a lot of tension. Her father was in the stands and was quite angry. Is this something that you can’t really accept even today?

JUSTINE HENIN: No, not really, because it’s a new page now for me, frankly. And by the way, I have an incredible memory, as you know, and there are many matches of the past that I’ve forgotten, because it’s a new page for me. I see things totally differently today.

Rewind back just over 2 years, 2007 Madrid Year-End WTA Championships, Sharapova and Henin played one of my favourite matches of the last decade. 3 hours and 25 minutes, 3 sets, zero tiebreaks, endless deuces. Henin would come through the match to finish the year on a 25 match winning streak, a streak that she would extend til January next year against … you guess it – Maria Sharapova. Only this time, Maria Sharapova would thoroughly out-blast, and at times even outrun Justine Henin.

But for that brief 3 month period between November and February, it looked like we had a rivalry. By the end of May, Justine Henin would be retired, and Maria Sharapova would tumble from her pedestal with the worst (undiagnosed) injury of her career.

Q. Justine said that the match you played in Australia seems very distant to her, very far away. Obviously she retired and came back since then. A lot has happened to you, as well. You’ve had some involuntary time off. Does it also seem distant to you, that whole Australian Open run?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Actually feels like we never left, or it was just yesterday. (laughter.)

That’s so funny. It was a couple of years ago, and, you know, here we are. We’re back. It’s a different Slam, but, you know, it’s the same drill. We’re waiting before matches. It’s as if, you know, things haven’t really changed much.

But obviously you think back to the last few years, and both of us have been in different paths and different times in our lives. But here we are going to face each other tomorrow.

Ice Cow is right. We’re continuing right where we left off. Different slam, same opponents, this time each with a world of maturity, frustration and perseverance in their tank.

Consider the factors in Justine’s favour –

  • She’s second in the WTA race: won Stuttgart, final at the Australian Open, semi in Brisbane and Miami. Year-to-date win/loss record thoroughly exceeds the meager wins of Maria.
  • She leads the H2H 6-3.
  • She’s the four-time champion for fuck sake. This is her home turf.

But knowing full well that I may have egg on my face in about 3 hours, if there was ever a time to put some money on Maria Sharapova to pull off an ‘upset’, now would be it.

I wouldn’t be the first to say that Henin hasn’t been playing Head Bitch Tennis this tournament. That’s not to say that she won’t improve from match to match, but that is saying that Maria Sharapova has a chance, given the way she has played in her first two rounds. We’re talking clean, deep ball striking, better defence, stable serve, single digit unforced errors. We’re talking about Sharapova making her brand of BYO Big Babe tennis work on clay.

She is by no means the favourite coming into this match, but as Justine said herself, “I think there’s one quality we share, which is we are winners. We are fighters. With this girl, it’s never over.”

xx doots


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11 responses to “Quotable Quotes: GAME. ON.”

  1. Jack says :

    I think if Justine tries to play Maria at her own game, then Maria could win!!

    I would love Maria to win against Justine but if I’m being honest, I just don’t see it happening! 😦

  2. TopSpin says :

    Right on the money….since the very beginning of RG theres been the subtlest of indications that whilst Henin has to be considered amongst the favourites, she doesn’t quite seem to cut the figure of the absolute favourite – in say the way she has done in years gone by.

    It’s not quite large enough to be an elephant in the room, but its there all right.

    And Shaza, as you say, has never this year looked closer to pulling off an upset. I may be overstating it a little, but all things considered, it wouldn’t be quite the upset many seem to think it is….

    • dootsiez says :

      Yer know, Sharapova just caused Justine to lose her first set at Roland Garros since …. 2005. SHARAPOVA. JUSTINE. ON CLAY. 5 YEARS.

      *falls off chair*

  3. jfK says :

    I love Justine…but my loyalties are with Shazam. Allez Maria!!!

  4. Alex says :

    Justine is not 4-time defending champion. She’s a 4-time champion. The defending champion Kuzzy is out.

    • dootsiez says :

      Golly, poor Kuzzy. I forgot about her. 😦 So used to calling Justine Henin ‘the defending champ”

  5. TennisAce says :

    I told my friends over at another tennis blog that I feel that Sharapova will win this in 3. At 2-2 in the second set, I wrote that man this match is over and Justine will take it. Then something happened. Sharapova started being patient. She started playing high, loopy off pace shots, she started moving Justine all over the court. She took the second set 6-3. I have never been a big Sharapova fan and I am definitely not a Justine fan, but I have been admiring Sharapova over the last few months with this shoulder injury. At first I read her press conferences with a smirk on my face when she spoke about optimism but when I saw her match in Strasbourg and I listened to her conversations with her coach, I know that this is a young woman who has been struggling both physically and mentally and with all the money in the world she is still hanging in there. She was not afraid to let the world know that she was afraid and that she was not averse to asking for help mid match. I do not like on court coaching, but it really did give me an insight into Sharapova. And that coach Joyce does wonders for her. He really does believe in her. Almost like a big brother rather than a coach.

    That being said, I think the match suspension will help Sharapova. Her shoulder is not strong enough to withstand the continuous pounding of Justine’s high top spin balls so it will be good for her to get some rest. Hope she comes out swinging tomorrow and takes down Justine. That way I will not have to listen to Sabine and Lucy and the rest of the commentators have orgasms over Justine. Ugh.

    • forehandshanker says :

      I didn’t expect to see so many Shrieka fans on a FedKAD site. Wasn’t JuJu considered the Fed of the WTA (or Fed the JuJu of the ATP)? It must be something other than their all-court games that explain the preference.

      I think the match suspension will help JuJu. As it got darker in the 2nd set, she was hitting the ball with more spin and farther from the lines, hoping to let Shrieka make all the mistakes. Unfortunately that didn’t pay off and Shrieka found her way back to the match. In daylight, I expect JuJu to start moving Shrieka around more and the match will turn in her favor.

      I agree with TopSpin: JuJu is not the absolute favorite. The factors against her: she’s playing higher risk tennis which doesn’t suit clay, and she’s got a horrible draw. If seeds play out as expected: she’ll have to beat Shrieka, Sam, ReRe, Lady JaJa and Vee/Caro.

      • dootsiez says :

        Forehandshanker – I like both. I almost never root against Justine in a match … unless she’s playing Shrieky or Serena. It’s a weird thing to say, but I’ve been with those two players from the start, whereas Justine only grew on me later in her career, so just more loyalty to the other side.

        As for the play being suspended, at the end of the day, both players will have to come out swinging. It’s good for Justine because she gets to regroup, but at the same time, Sharapova will also get a good rest on that uncertain shoulder and some pep talk with Joyce about how slow she started today. Hoping for an epic third set here.

        TennisAce – when Maria Sharapova switched from being coached by her dad to being coached by Joyce, I thought it was the best decision she ever made. There are a lot of Russian/European players with an unhealthy attachment to their mum or dad in both a personal and professional capacity, but in the case of Sharapova, I admired her independence and presence of mind when she realised that she wasn’t going to get anything more out of her dad and got herself a proper coach and – as you said – a big brother figure to mentor her.

  6. Chairman, Federer Puny Left Arm Society says :

    Chairman was impressed with Shaparova’s play even though she lost. Clay is for Justines like grass is for cows. I think Sharapova will do well at Wimbledon.

    Chairman likes to thank Sharapova for not going all Venus Williams on her undies. But she makes it up with her grunting.

    Chairman has been busy since the Australian Open managing the affairs of our esteemed society.

  7. elisha says :

    ugh Love Justine, but I couldn’t help but agree with the commentators. The Allez-ing every point was ticking me off. I really never noticed it until this tournament. I don’t know how I never noticed it – it was bordering on obnoxious. At some points I was so ticked off I couldn’t really focus on the actual match…!
    Maria played really well. I mean, that girl never gives up any point easily. Fighter ’til the end, and it’s a reason why I became her fan(Another reason it’s hard to not like Hewiit or Nadal). I’m sure her chances at Wimbledon will be great. How could it not? If she keeps doing what she’s been doing, there’s no way she won’t do well!

    Love Sam Stosur and Serena, but I still hope Justine will do well here. Although… I’m not averse to the idea of Justine losing early so she can focus on practicing for Wimbledon… HAHA… Don’t mind me. I know a lot of people here are fans of Maria over Justine, but I can’t help it like I can’t help loving Roger. haha

    And Nadia better get to the final in that bottom half of the draw. I really wanted Venus to get to the final, but if I see Elena or something…. >__<

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