Sam Stosur Brings An End To Henin’s Reign
Justine Henin hadn’t looked her best at her first Roland Garros since coming back from retirement, but the clay-courts of Paris were always her happy hunting ground and there were little doubts she would make the final. Dealt a difficult draw, the first wobbles came against Maria Sharapova, who played out of her skin to push Henin to three. It was the first time Henin had lost a set at Roland Garros since 2005, but despite Sharapova’s great play and effort Henin was too solid in the end. Everyone could see that Henin was beatable, but whether anyone could match her consistency was the question.
Enter Sam Stosur. She reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros in 2009 and came into this year’s tournament with the most wins on clay and a clay-court title at Charleston. Her only losses on the dirt were to Venus Williams and Henin herself. Known for a huge serve and big groundstrokes but a shaky mentality, fans had hope that Stosur could beat Henin but wern’t holding their breath.
Henin came out blasting winner after winner and raced away with the first set 6-2. Unexpectedly, it was all Stosur after that. She claimed the next two sets 6-1 6-4, converting her second match point. In a post match interview, Stosur described feeling ‘sick’ after the win but that it was defiantly the best of her career. When told she was now someone to be scared of she brushed it aside with a laugh, dismissing the reporter’s allegation. She has always been modest and showed it more than ever in her post-match interview. “I mean, (it’s) obviously a great achievement for me, but it’s not over yet. I’m just in the quarters and going to play the No. 1 player in the world next”. Beating Henin didn’t give Stosur any deluded sense of self either, she was three hours after Henin to the press conference not because she was rejoicing in the biggest scalp of her career, but because she had a doubles match to play.
It’s important that Stosur is keeping a cool head as the newly confident Australian’s reward for beating Henin is none other than Serena Williams. Williams has been playing some of her best clay-court tennis this season and has already beaten Stosur at the Australian Open in 2010. What is more imposing than her game though is Serena’s mentality and ability to fight back from the largest of deficits. She certainly cuts an imposing figure with her bright dress, loud screams, and huge fist-pumps. The 5’7 blonde Australian will need ever single ounce of concentration she needed for the Henin match. Yet there is no doubt though that Stosur can make her way to the finals if she plays the way she did yesterday. Even Serena Williams has been singing her praises after openly not being Stosur’s biggest fan last year. Stosur’s wasn’t really suprised that Serena has changed her tune.
“I guess a lot of people have changed their idea about what kind of tennis player I am recently. I guess that’s a good thing. I maybe started to live up to that potential that everyone saw when I was younger. Probably none more so than myself. To be able to do that is a good thing.”
It’s absolutely a good thing to see a woman with a great serve and now steady nerve at the top of women’s tennis and climbing. She might even help Australian Tennis, which is struggling for attention amongst AFL and rugby league. Yet it will certainly be more than just Australia who will be tuning into Stosur’s quarter-final match against Williams on Wednesday. Sam Stosur is a world player now.