Henin upbeat after French Open setback

01 June 2010 - 09:34 By Sapa-AFP

Justine Henin’s comeback charge came to a shuddering halt at the French Open, but she remains upbeat about her future.

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The 27-year-old Belgian was outplayed 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 by Samantha Stosur of Australia in a fourth round tie to end a 24-match unbeaten run on the Roland Garros claycourts that dated back to 2004.

All the talk beforehand had been of Henin setting up another clash with old rival Serena Williams who beat her in three sets in the Australian Open final in January.

That came just a month after the Belgian had returned to tennis following an absence of nearly two years to recharge her batteries.

Henin then won in Stuttgart to add gloss to her comeback, but a broken finger on her left hand and a bout of sinusitis left her short of form coming into Paris.

“It’s going to take some time. I realise that,” she said of her campaign to add to her collection of Grand Slam titles which stood at seven when she walked away from the sport in May 2008.

“But I said it from the first minute I was back on the tour."

There have been a lot of good things in the first five months of the season, but that’s not easy.

“I knew 2010 would be difficult. Even if in Australia I got very good results it was also a surprise.

“After that, you have to confirm. We can see there are some ups and downs, and I knew it could happen.

“Now it’s probably going to be really the time that I’ll have to just say it’s now that I have to find it, because there are difficult moments ahead. I think I’m ready to do it.”

Henin was on top early on against Australia’s Stosur, who reached the semi-finals last year.

But when her opponent turned on her power game at the start of the second set she started to struggle and admitted to being more nervous and upset on court than she is used to.

Henin briefly got back on level terms after dropping an early break in the third, but she was unable to reproduce the lethal backhand strokes and fleet footedness that were her trademarks en route to winning four French Open titles.

Stosur was a worthy winner, she agreed, but Henin insisted she was happy with her own form in what she has termed a transition year for her.

“I took this year as a year of transition, so of course it’s hard,” she said.

“But in another way it seems a bit normal. I’ll just try to keep a lot of positive thngs and get focused on the future now.”

What that means in the immediate aftermath of Roland Garros for Henin is turning her attentions toward Wimbledon and winning the one Grand Slam title that so far has eluded her and which was one of the prime reasons for her returning to tennis.

“I want to go as far as possible there,” she said.

“In 2010 it’s probably a bit too early to say but it’s going to be my goal to win it.”

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