Serena Williams successively defended her 2009 Australian Open title and can now count the 2010 trophy as her 12th Grand Slam Championship. The win ties her with Billie Jean King for total singles titles.
Williams used her powerful serve to regain her confidence in the third set after a very game Justine Henin made a strong second set rally. Williams recorded her fifth Australian Open Championship in a seesaw 2 hour 7 minute 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 match that she closed with a flourish. Williams charged through the last four games with a combination of big serves and powerful forehands against the fleet Henin.
The tight first set began with Henin collecting six break point opportunities in Serena’s first three service games. Serena came back in both games to hold. Those holds may have spelled Henin’s fate, as Williams is 40-0 in title matches where she has won the first set. Williams now holds an 8-6 won-lost advantage against Henin, who was playing just her 11th match since returning to the professional circuit.
Like so many final matches, this one was also a tale of the serving tape. Henin committed six double faults and landed just 50% of her first serves compared to Williams’ 64%. Williams threw in 12 aces to turn away Henin’s bid for an eighth Grand Slam.
Unlike last year, when Williams had an embarrassingly easy time of disposing of Dinara Safina in the finals, Henin held up well under the Williams assault. She surrendered a break in the fourth game to trail 3-1, but pulled even with a tense break in game seven to get the match back on serve.
Williams then held to go ahead 5-4. The Champion pressured Henin to secure an easy break and take the first set in 51 minutes.
Henin earned the first break in the second set but Williams answered right back to take the lead at 3-2. When the Belgian held to square the set at 3-3, she mustered a run of he own, winning the final 10 points of the set. Henin used her pinpoint backhand accuracy to hit tape after tape while Serena had difficulty staying in longer points.
Williams, who won the doubles with her sister Venus, was playing her 12th match in Melbourne and with heavily bandaged legs, it seemed she was losing steam. She took a locker room break after the second set, yet returned only to lose the first five points of the set.
But, things changed quickly. Henin has no answer for Serena’s wide serves to the deuce court and middle serves o the add court. Williams found her way with her serve but iced the win with her overpowering forehand. Henin had five break point opportunities in the final set, but every time Williams had an answer.
Henin committed 32 unforced errors while Williams had 37. Williams converted 6 break points as Henin converted 5. There was a high level of intensity throughout the match as two proven winners renewed their rivalry. Once again The American has borne the role of tournament favorite to perfection. For the unranked, unseeded Henin, she has now reached the finals in her two tournaments since returning to play. Her downfall was clearly her inability to apply pressure with her serve, something Williams has mastered.
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