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Steve's Weblog

An incurable tennis addict, Steve Flink has been following the game since 1965, the year he first went to Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships. Flink is a Senior Correspondent for Tennis Week Magazine, a publication he joined in 1992. From 1972-82, he put his photographic memory to use as a statistician for CBS, NBC and ABC. He has been a consultant and writer for the International Tennis Hall of Fame since 1994 and is a member of their Nominating Committee. Steve is the author of The Greatest Tennis Matches of the 20th Century. Flink's recall of match history is unsurpassed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Justine Henin-Hardenne

Reaching a fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament final at the U.S. Open was no mean feat for the industrious Belgian, but the third time in 2006 she fell short at the last hurdle. Henin-Hardenne has not only beaten Sharapova at the Australian Open earlier in 2006, but she had also recorded four head-to-head victories in a row over her Russian adversary. Week in and week out, she is the best woman player in the world, and no one has performed with more consistency across the 2006 season. Henin-Hardenne has demonstrated that she is the finest all surface player in the women’s game, the woman with the soundest ground strokes, the competitor with the largest heart and widest range of ambition.

But she is burdened by too many physical ailments and her health remains a serious issue. She seemed to fade considerably in the Wimbledon final after taking the opening set commandingly from Amelie Mauresmo. She needs longer stretches to recuperate than her chief rivals and is forced too frequently to produce her best tennis after being away from the game.

Henin-Hardenne is only 24 but in many ways she seems older. The year ahead will be very revealing for her and for us. She remains fully capable of toppling big rivals and contending hard for Grand Slam championships. But will she be able to move past her sizeable problems and add to her total of five major singles titles? The guess here is that she may not.


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