Finally, Amelie Mauresmo was able to shake the monkey off her back, overcoming her nerves in a gallant fight with Justine Henin-Hardenne, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. With her win, comes another accolade, having been the first Frenchwoman to win the singles title since the great Suzzane Lenglen won it in 1925. Incidentally, Mauresmo’s win levels her career head-to-her wins with Henin-Hardenne at 5-5.
The first set saw Henin-Hardenne race to a 2-0 lead. It was Henin-Hardenne who showed dominance early in the match by coming to the net more often, moving Mauresmo from side to side, using her trademark backhand shot. Mauresmo showed some resistance by holding her serve in the third game. The two players went on to win the next two games one after the other, both holding their respective serves, leaving the scoreboard at 3-2. With Mauresmo incurring double faults, and coupled with Henin-Hardenne’s tenacity, Henin-Hardenne went on to win the first set, 6-2, in thirty-one minutes.
The second set saw the tide turned against Henin-Hardenne as Mauresmo found her rhythm and rebounded, ending every volley with winners. Mauresmo then took the first three games. The two players then held their serves one after the other, pushing the score to 4-2 with Mauresmo, backed by a renewed level of confidence, leading. Henin-Hardenne, on the other hand, could only do so much, as she incurred unforced errors one after the other. At one point, Henin-Hardenne looked in her coach’s direction in the crowd, as if waiting for quick advice on how to stop the resurgent Mauresmo. Henin-Hardenne held her serve and won the seventh game of the second set to reduce Mauresmo’s lead to 4-3. Henin-Hardenne’s desire to recover and finish the match in two sets came to an end when a fully-pumped up Mauresmo won the next two games and the second set 6-3 in forty-nine minutes, to force a third set.
With a set win each, Mauresmo and Henin-Hardenne looked poised to give the fight of their lives for a third set win. Henin-Hardenne drew first blood by holding her serve. Not to be outdone, Mauresmo responded by holding her serve to level the score at 1-1. After trading volleys and shots, Mauresmo led Henin-Hardenne in the third set, at 3-1. As Mauresmo’s serve improved, Henin-Hardenne lost her rhythm, often times committing unforced errors one after the other. Henin-Hardenne’s strategy of attacking the net saved her another game, as her trademark backhand shot proved futile at 3-2. With her growing confidence, and the crowd cheering her, Mauresmo was far from choking. Mauresmo then took the next game to lead at 4-2. Both players held their serves respectively, fighting stiff opposition with score at 5-3. Just when Mauresmo thought she was in for a big win by the end of the game, Henin-Hardenne proved her wrong by holding her serve at 5-4. Mauresmo was left to serve for the match, which she did, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, in two hours and three minutes.
As she was presented the trophy, the Venus Rosewater Dish, she told the Centre Court crowd in jest, "I don't want anybody to talk about my nerves any more."Powered by Sidelines