Serena vs. Henin in Australian Open Final on ESPN2

Tennis

Serena vs. Henin in Australian Open Final on ESPN2

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Fernandez & Shriver Preview the Match Between Top Two Players of Last 10 Years

Serena Williams and Justine Henin – very different athletes who nevertheless have been the top two players in women’s tennis for a decade with 18 major titles between them – will meet in a Grand Slam event final for the first time at the Australian Open presented by Franklin Templeton Investments on ESPN2 late Friday night, Jan. 29, at 3:30 a.m. ET (half past midnight PT).Tennis_Williams_Serena

The powerful 28-year-old Williams, the no. 1 seed of the tournament and defending champion, will attempt to win her fifth title Down Under and 12th major victory overall.  The slightly built unseeded Henin – 27 and playing in only her second event after a 20-month retirement suddenly announced in May 2008 – is seeking her second win in Melbourne (she has seven major titles) and has looked impressive along the way, like she was never away from the game. The Belgian Henin and American Williams have met 13 times before with Henin winning seven. The two have played six times in Grand Slam evens and Henin has a 4-2 advantage. They have never played in the Grand Slam event final.

ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Pam Shriver preview the match:

Fernandez:  “They both have been playing aggressively but in different ways.  Serena is more straight forward – strong serves and blasting returns.  She’s more about hitting through people.  Justine is more aggressive than she used to be, but by using variety – more spin, more slices and coming to the net. All along, I’ve thought Serena was the favorite to win, but now she’s coming off two long matches in the quarters and semifinal.  I’m not sure if she’s completely healthy.  She’s all wrapped up and not moving well, so now I’m inclined to give Justine the edge.  But Serena continues to play doubles so she can’t be feeling that bad, and she certainly knows how to dig deep in big matches.  It may come down to Serena’s serve.  She’ll want short points.  On the other hand, Justine will want to get into long rallies and slowly construct points.  It’s a fascinating matchup of contrasting styles.”

Shriver:  “This match up should be the best rivalry for the next two years as they are the best players at the majors where the pressure is greatest.  Three years ago when Justine defeated Serena in the quarters of three straight majors (French Open, Wimbledon, US Open), Serena was just not physically or mentally good enough.  I feel in the last three years Serena has toughened up – especially at the majors – and is committed to being the best.  If Serena is not physically close to 100 per cent, then Justine will win, but Serena has been devastating Down Under since dropping the opening set in the 2005 Australian Open final to Lindsay Davenport, winning that match and in 2007 and ‘09.  If she is fully healthy, I give Serena a slight edge.  But Justine will be ready to take it if Serena is not playing at her best level. I can’t wait.”

The remaining Australian Open coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com:

2010 AUSTRALIAN OPEN on ESPN2

(For these charts, all times are Eastern, and each day “begins” at 6 a.m. ET.

Therefore, the listing for Sat., Jan. 30 at 3:30 a.m. ET is very late on Saturday night/Sunday morning.)

Date Time (ET) Event
Fri, Jan 29 3 – 6 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #2 reair
3:30 – 5:30 a.m. Women’s Final LIVE
Sat, Jan. 30 8 – 9:55 a.m. Women’s Final reair
  10 p.m. – MID Women’s Final reair
3:30 – 6:30 a.m. Men’s Final LIVE
Sun, Jan 31 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Men’s Finals reair

2010 AUSTRALIAN OPEN on ESPN360.com

Date Time (ET) Event
Fri, Jan 29 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Boys’ and Girls’ Finals LIVE
  3:30 – 5:30 a.m. Women’s Final LIVE
Sat, Jan. 30 12:30 – 2 a.m. Mixed Doubles Final LIVE
  3:30 – 6:30 a.m. Men’s Final LIVE

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