I never used to think of myself as an Henin fan. I liked her game, sure, but I think it had something to do with the day she retired in the final of the Aussie Open against Mauresmo. Henin the player was great, but I was never a fan of Henin the sportswoman.
This extended to me not believing she was going to come back right up until the day before her press conference, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Why? I just didn't think she had it in her.
So you can imagine that I watched her comeback with some trepidation - mixed in with excitement, because, hello, the women's game needs whatever it can get right now. I was at work, so I didn't see the first part of the match. I arrived home midway through the first set. I had groceries with me, including ice cream, but they would have to wait until a convenient change of ends. I needed to see how this would play out.
I turned on the TV. And there was a different Justine Henin waiting there.
Sure, at this point it was even stevens with Nadia Petrova - Justine didn't pull out the big break until the end of the set. But her game was there, not especially rusty. The backhand was back, and the speed, and some new serve I'm not too sure about but which I'm sure will work itself out.
But something else was back too. For the first time in a long time, it looked like Justine was enjoying herself on the court. Finally, after years and years and years, I found myself able to like Justine the sportswoman.
Apparently in Belgium they're already talking about the possibility of an all Belgian final for Brisbane. I am certainly right behind that in wishing, if not in believing, being as I will be there, and I can think of few things I would like better than to see the two Belgian comeback queens battle it out. This could be a reignition of the Clijsters/Henin rivalry - and heaven knows women's tennis needs it!
In other news, big props go out to John Millman and Peter Luczak, who put up fighting efforts against their higher ranked opponents in Brisbane last night. Luczak looked better than I've seen him for a LONG time, and Millman just seems like a really cool dude with a pretty solid game which I would like to see more of. Yay for these two.
Yay also for my favourite WTA player, Sabine Lisicki, for a fantastic win over Elena Dementieva at the Hopman Cup. Russia went on to win the tie, but this win is an individual serving-of-notice from Sabine. This girl is going to be huge.
Hopman Cup (Perth)
Russia 2, Germany 1
Sabine Lisicki def. Elena Dementieva, 6-4 6-1
Igor Andreev def. Philipp Kohlschreiber, 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 6-3
Dementieva/Andreev def. Lisicki/Kohlschreiber, 6-4 7-6 (9-7)
Great Britain 2, Kazakhstan 1
Yaroslava Shvedova def. Laura Robson, 4-6 6-3 6-0
Andy Murray def. Andrey Golubev, 6-2 6-2
Robson/Murray def. Shvedova/Golubev, 6-3 5-7 12-10 (match tie break)
Brisbane International (Brisbane)
Andy Roddick def. Peter Luczak, 7-6 (7-5) 6-2
Richard Gasquet def. Jarkko Nieminen, 6-3 4-6 6-3
Harel Levy def. Michael Llodra, 6-2 6-0
Thomaz Bellucci def. Juan Ignacio Chela, 6-3 3-6 6-1
Marc Gicquel def. Philipp Petzschner, 6-3 6-1
Alejandro Falla def. Jeremy Chardy, 6-4 6-4
Wayne Odesnik def. Arnaud Clement, 6-4 7-6 (7-2)
Radek Stepanek def. John Millman, 6-4 6-0
Lucie Safarova def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1
Aleksandra Wozniak def. Galina Voskoboeva, 6-2 6-2
Daniela Hantuchova def. Ekaterina Ivanova, 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-1
Agnes Szavay def. Shuai Peng, 5-7 6-4 6-2
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Alisa Kleybanova, 6-4 2-6 6-2
Roberta Vinci def. Sara Errani, 6-4 2-6 6-2
Timea Bacsinszky def. Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-4 7-6 (7-3)
Ana Ivanovic def. Jelena Dokic, 7-5 1-6 6-3
Sesil Karantcheva def. Casey Dellacqua, 6-2 0-6 7-6 (7-1)
Justine Henin def. Nadia Petrova, 7-5 7-5
Qatar ExxonMobil Open (Doha)
Ernests Gulbis def. Albert Montanes, 6-2 7-5
Marco Chiudineilli def. Paolo Lorenzi, 7-5 6-3
Ivo Karlovic def. Fabio Fognini, 6-4 6-4
Viktor Troicki def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 6-1 7-5
Oliver Rochus def. Abdulla Hajji, 6-1 6-0
Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Mikhail Youzhny, 7-6 (13-11) 6-2
Potito Starace def. Frederico Gil, 6-2 6-0
Chennai Open (Chennai)
Thiemo de Bakker def. Rajeev Ram, 6-1 6-1
Janko Tipsarevic def. Carlos Moya, 6-3 7-6 (7-2)
Jan Hajek def. Simon Greul, 3-6 6-2 6-4
Santiago Giraldo def. Bjorn Phau, 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3
Marin Cilic def. Igor Kunitsyn, 6-2 6-4
ASB Auckland Classic (Auckland)
Flavia Pennetta def. Jill Craybas, 6-2 6-4
Dominika Cibulkova def. Alexandra Dulgheru, 6-0 6-3
Kimiko Date Krumm def. Anna Chakvetadze, 6-1 6-2
Yanina Wickmayer def. Julia Goerges, 6-3 7-5
Magdalena Rybarikova def. Anabel Medina Garrigues, 6-2 6-3
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago