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Finally, Henin Beats a Williams

May 13, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

Justine Henin finally made the clutch shot she needed to get past one of the Williams sisters.

Henin needed three match points to beat Serena Williams, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5), in the final of the German Open Sunday at Berlin.

The 19-year-old Belgian won her first title of the year after failing in three previous finals. Henin, the world's eighth-ranked player, had lost all three finals to Serena Williams' older sister, Venus. She defeated Serena Williams for the first in three tries.

"Maybe it was a breakthrough. I've always been too nervous in these kind of matches," Henin said of her fifth career title. "But it was a great week, a great experience and I played free in the head."

The third set featured outstanding shots from both players, producing the thrilling finish.

Henin built a 4-2 lead in the third set, but Williams battled back, drawing standing ovations from the crowd. Henin wasted two match points at 6-5. She hit a drop shot to end the match after 2 hours 17 minutes.

Williams, playing her first final on clay, struggled with her first serve, although she hit a twisting ace to ward off one match point and send the final set into a tiebreaker.

"I think I could have won the match, but I couldn't get a first serve in," Williams said. "It's really strenuous to try and win without it.

"I'm happy, I had a lot of positives in my game, learning experiences. Now, I'm just going to get ready for [the French Open]."

Williams, who has won two titles this year, lost for just the second time in 20 matches.

Henin has extended Serena or Venus Williams to three sets in five of her last seven meetings against the sisters. At Amelia Island, S.C., last month, Henin led Venus, 6-2, 4-0, before losing.

This time, Henin handled the pressure, even as Williams won two points in the tiebreaker to pull even at 5-5.

Henin then made her biggest shot of the match. Williams hit a powerful forehand at her feet near the net, and Henin reached and flicked an unreachable drop shot.

"The match was won at this point," Henin said.

Said Williams: "That was just a very good shot."

*

Elena Bovina of Russia beat top-seeded Henrieta Nagyova of Slovakia, 6-3, 6-1, in the final of the J&S Cup at Warsaw.

It was the first WTA tournament victory for the 19-year-old Bovina, whose previous best finish was second in Estoril, Portugal, last year.

Soccer

Dante Washington scored the tying goal in the 67th minute and Jaime Moreno missed a penalty kick in injury time as the Columbus Crew (2-4-1) and Washington D.C. United (2-5-1) played to a 1-1 draw in a Major League Soccer game before 30,169 at Washington.

Santino Quaranta scored D.C. United's goal in the 47th minute. It was the first goal in 227 minutes for D.C. United, shut out in consecutive games.

Moreno, making only his second start after missing the start of the season with a knee injury, had a chance to win the game from the penalty spot six minutes into injury time, but he rolled a soft shot that goalkeeper Tom Presthus saved easily by diving to his left.

*

Sherrill Kester scored in injury time to give the San Diego Spirit (1-2-2) a 1-1 tie with the WUSA champion San Jose CyberRays (2-2-1) before 5,580 at San Jose.

Kester, who entered the match in the 74th minute, took a pass from Julie Foudy and fired a shot to the far post. The ball rattled off both goal posts before settling in the net for her first career goal.

Diving

Alexandre Despatie of Canada ended China's bid to sweep all 10 events in the USA Grand Prix at Coral Springs, Fla., winning the men's platform title.

The 16-year-old Canadian rallied from fifth place after he received a two-point deduction on every mark in the third dive for illegally moving his hand while in the handstand takeoff position.

"I knew after the dive I dropped back a lot of places and I'd have to do very good on the next three dives to catch up," said Despatie, who finished with 463.83 points.

American Mark Ruiz was second with 459.78 points.

China's Minxia Wu won the women's three-meter title with 339.42 points. China took the women's team event with 48 points.

Anna Lindberg of Sweden was second with 307.26 points. Kimiko Soldati, the only American in the event, finished fifth. The U.S. was second in the women's team competition with 37 points.

Hockey

The new world hockey champions were given a heroes' welcome upon returning home to Slovakia after winning the nation's first world championship by beating Russia, 4-3, Saturday in Goteborg, Sweden.

A few thousand fans gathered at the airport, while others lined the streets of Bratislava leading to a downtown square where a crowd of at least 25,000 wildly cheered and applauded the team.

The Slovaks, who failed to advance from group play at the Salt Lake City Olympics, won their first world championship medal--silver--in 2000.

"Everybody has this kind of a dream in his heart," said captain Miroslav Satan, also a member of the Buffalo Sabres. "I did not expect it to come true so soon."

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